LYNCHBURG, Va. – After finishing the 2017 season with an 8-19 overall record and a 3-8 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) record, the Randolph College volleyball team is ready to make a statement on the court for its 2018 campaign.
Fifth-year head coach Kara Matthews returns a handful of last year's roster and brings three newcomers to the court for a season that is full of potential.
"This 2018 pre-season has been one of the best since I have been at Randolph," expressed Matthews. "Not only have we returned most of our starters, the competition in our gym is much higher due to our athleticism and talent this year."
Key starters from last year include seniors Autumn Troxell (Front Royal, Va./Warren County), Brooks Gillerlain (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) and Rebecca Lesnak (Blountville, Tenn./Sullivan Central).
Troxell, who ranked 10th in the ODAC and first on the team with 252 kills, will be a key middle and outside hitter for the WildCats, as will Lesnak, who averaged 1.60 kills per set last year and finished with 24 service aces.
Gillerlain returns to her position as a setter after accumulating 555 assists in 2017, ranking fifth in the conference with 5.97 assists per set. She will be sharing her post with junior Taylor Webb (Nassawadox, Va./Northampton), who completed her sophomore campaign with 209 assists to average 2.30 assists per set.
Also returning from the junior class is Lauren Morgan (Bedford, Va./Liberty), who will return to the court after healing from an injury, Sam Verhaagen (Virginia Beach, Va./Norfolk Christian), who takes up the post of libero, and defensive specialist/outside hitter Kennedy Webb (Nassawadox, Va./Northampton). Lindsey Taylor (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem), Kennedy Moulton (Springfield, Va./West Springfield), Mackenzie Ambrose (Floyd, Va./Floyd County) and Meghan Chaffins (Temperanceville, Va./Holly Grove Christian) will take the court for their sophomore outings.
Joining the WildCats this year are the new talents of Taja Hunley (Dalzell, S.C./Thomas Sumter Academy), Makayla Murray (Newports News, Va./Warwick) and Maddie Gaus (Yorktown, Va./Summit Christian Academy).
"We are developing a new offense and defense and I am excited to see how it plays out against other teams," continued Matthews. "Our seniors and juniors all have had game experience since their freshman year, which is a huge asset for us.
"We are excited to see how we match up against our competition this weekend as preparation for ODAC play."
Randolph opens its season on Friday, Aug. 31 at the 24th Annual Cougar Classic hosted by Averett University.