Ciskowski source of standout play for East Tennessee

STAR staff

   For the past four years the East Tennessee State University volleyball team has been showing that it is one of the top programs around.
   One reason for this being is due to the outstanding play of senior Amber Ciskowski. In her four years at East Tennessee State as an outside hitter, Ciskowski has been a part of 61 wins overall and 43 Southern Conference victories.
   "It's been great here," Ciskowski said of East Tennessee State. "I have formed bonds and friendships that are going to last forever. The thing that I have gained the most is that all of my teammates are like sisters to me."
   During her prep career at Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Ciskowski lettered four years while grabbing first-team All-Region, second-team All-East Valley and All-State honorable mention honors. She was also named the team MVP after leading her school to the 1997 Class 5A Central Region title and then advancing to the state quarterfinals.
   She collected a school record 165 kills, 39 service aces, 94 digs and 17 blocks during her senior campaign and was named to the East Valley's "Top 12" players while also being selected as the All-City Athlete.
   Not only did she do it on the court but Ciskowski also was a member of the National Honor Society and was a four-year academic letterman at MPHS.
   Making the transition to the collegiate level was a huge step for Ciskowski, but after getting some experience she seemed to handle it very well.
   So well that by the time her sophomore year rolled around she played in all of the Buccaneers' 31 matches and ranked third on the squad with 315 kills.
   "She's a combination of two words, and that's 'flexibility' and 'consistency,'" said East Tennessee State coach Deane Webb. "She gets along with every single player on the team. Anybody can come to her at anytime and they all know that."
   In her junior year Ciskowski led the team with 311 kills while recording 28 service aces (3rd on team) along with 299 digs. To complement a successful season, she also tallied 12 double-doubles.
   "She's just a very well-rounded player," said Webb. "She's not a player that has one part of her game that is so far ahead of the other parts of her game. She is a very talented athlete."
   Now in her final season, she has helped lead East Tennessee State to a 17-3 overall record and a 12-3 Southern Conference record with five more conference road games to go before the SoCon Tournament.
   "This season has been so great," Ciskowski said. "I just feel like my best volleyball has yet to come. This team has some great things that we are going to be seeing in the future and that will be my best moment."
   So far this season Ciskowski has been outstanding on the court and has proved it by her statistics. She has totaled 172 kills to go along with 20 service aces, 192 digs and 25 blocks.
   "This year there is a different feeling and that's because of more confidence," said Ciskowski. "We have a lot more chemistry on the court and it's just so much more fun to play, and I'm glad that my senior year is turning out the way it is."
   Currently the Buccaneers are tied for second place in the conference, and with a crop of scheduled conference games due up Ciskowski is confident that she and the team are ready for the challenge.
   "Our long-term goal is to win the Southern Conference tournament," said Ciskowski. "But we're going to take each game one at a time."
   Not only has she done it on the court for the Buccaneers, but has also excelled in the classroom. Majoring in communications/public relations, she hopes to land herself in employment back home on the West Coast.
   "I want to work in a public relations firm," said Ciskowski about her plans after graduation. "I eventually want to end up back on the West Coast with my family."
   Amber is the daughter of Rick and Doras Ciskowski and sister to Ken Ciskowski.