The Oglethorpe volleyball team returns on Friday for their second season under head coach Joseph Goodson, and will look to make a big move up the SAA standings in 2018.
The Stormy Petrels finished 4-21 in 2017, but did get a pair of wins in their Labor Day weekend tournament to start the season, defeating Columbia (South Carolina) and Illinois Tech, and then picked up a couple victories in SAA play, where they got an away victory over Rhodes and took down Centre at home. The Petrels' record did not indicate the their improved level of play over the course of the season, however, and they'll look to take that improved play into the 2018 season.
The Petrels return sophomore outside hitter Jacoby Sims, who earned All-SAA Second Team honors for her performance in her freshman campaign. She finished the season at third in the league in kills per set with 3.24, and was also second in the league in points per set (3.8) and attacks per set (9.91). She also rounded out the season in the SAA's top 10 in total kills, total points and service aces. She accrued over 20 kills in a match three times during the 2017 campaign.
A large, 7-player senior class will lead the squad into the 2018 campaign. Defensive specialist Lexi Grams, outside hitter Santreece Stephens, middle hitter Haili Nelson, right-side hitter Alette Duan, right-side hitter Evan Furst, middle hitter Ashlee Tolbert and defensive specialist Delaney Findling comprise the group.
The Petrels also welcome 10 newcomers to the fold. Nine freshmen and junior transfer Brianna Chin comprise the group of new faces, and all will look to contribute to Oglethorpe's rise this season.
The schedule is a challenging one for the Petrels, but the non-conference portion should provide an excellent test for the tough SAA slate to come, with the league getting two teams into the NCAA tournament in 2017 (Berry and Birmingham-Southern).
The season will start at the Lakeland University Volleyball Tournament in Plymouth, Wisconsin. The Petrels get things started off on Friday with matchups against Wisconsin Lutheran and Cardinal Stritch, then will finish their stay on Saturday against Wisconsin-La Crosse and hosts Lakeland. The next weekend, they'll be back in Atlanta, but will be at Emory for the Emory National Tournament where they'll take on Tufts, Transylvania and Whitworth.
Oglethorpe will welcome Huntingdon to Dorough Field House for their home opener on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. They'll also face off against preseason No. 5 Emory at Dorough on Oct. 7, and will end the regular season with a road trip to Tennessee to go against Maryville on Oct. 23, followed by a day at the Emory National Invitational on Oct. 26, where they'll battle Salem and Washington & Lee.
The Petrels will also head to preseason No. 25 Berry on Sept. 12, with a return trip on Oct. 3. They'll host Birmingham-Southern on Sept. 22 before returning to Alabama on Oct. 19.
"We're very excited to get the season started," said Goodson. "I love the group we have this year, and I think we have the chance to make some noise in what is a tough league. We've got an outstanding freshman class coming in, and added to a strong group of returners, including seven seniors, I like the look of this team."