HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The women's volleyball team of Coker College, under the leadership of third year Head Coach Julia Rowland, begins their 2017 campaign on Friday, Sept. 1, at the Newberry College Volleyball Invitational versus the Bearcats of Lander University.
A Quick Look Back
The Cobras more than tripled their win total from the 2015 season with 13, with five being in the South Atlantic Conference. They lead off the year on a four game win streak and prevailing six of the first seven games. Sweeping Carson-Newman, who the season before advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight, headlines the victories.
In the classroom, the Cobra women's volleyball team excelled, earning a cumulative team GPA of 3.65. This feat garnered them the America Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Honor Roll Award. The esteemed accolade is given to collegiate and high school volleyball teams that maintain at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 on a 5.0 scale.
2017 Season Outlook
"It's been a really great preseason so far," Coach Rowland believes. "These girls have stepped onto the court with high expectations in their minds and they've not stopped working hard since they got here".
With 11 players returning, four incoming freshman, and one transfer joining the Cobras, the team brings experience into the season. Many of the returners have made their mark in the all-time record book.
"I've never seen such a great mesh happen so quickly, said Rowland. "The returners are really stepping in and bonding with them almost immediately. I think that all five of those girls have stepped up and we may see them making immediate impacts."
"They [the new arrivals] are not afraid of us. They're ready to voice their opinions and be confident on the court," stated senior defensive specialist/libero Missy Reid. "I'm really looking forward to see them play in a game."
Some returners had an outstanding season in 2016 and will continue their climb up the all-time leaderboard in 2017.
Senior outside hitter Madison Bingle ended the year leading the team in kills (217), third in aces (27), tied first in sets played (108), eighth all-time in kills (628), and tenth all-time in digs (766).
Senior setter Christen Bragg followed close to Bingle with 208 digs and tied her with 108 sets played. Her 586 assists lead the team and Bragg came in second in aces with 29. Bragg ranks fourth all-time in assists (2,035), sixth all-time in service aces (90), and tenth all-time in block assists (133).
Sophomore setter/right side hitter Taylor du Bray finished second in assists with 417, but lead with 30 service aces. After only her freshman season, du Bray is ranked ninth all-time in assists.
Junior setter/defensive specialist/libero Kara Overholt lead the Cobras in digs with 556. She holds the all-time match record in digs with 38 versus Carson-Newman on Sept. 23, 2016, which lasted five sets.
Senior middle blocker Alexis Berles ended the season with 70 total blocks, 15 solo and 55 assisted. She came in second with an attack percentage of .219. Berles is tenth all-time in service aces with 71 and fifth all-time in block assists with 184.
The team also set an all-time match record in digs with 134 versus Chowan on Sept. 9, 2016 in five sets.
What to Watch For
The Cobras women's volleyball team was tabbed to finish in last place in the 2017 SAC preseason poll. Wingate, Lincoln Memorial, Anderson, Queens, and Lenoir-Rhyne were the top five teams, with Wingate receiving ten first-place votes and Anderson being given one. Newberry, Tusculum, Catawba, Carson-Newman, and Mars Hill rounded out the poll ahead of Coker.
"Obviously it's great that we're continuing to see more and more success each year, but I think it just made us more hungry," said coach Rowland. "The team has come in with that attitude and they really see us not at the bottom anymore, but more in every single match, competing and getting more wins."
The Coker Cobras women's volleyball team has a 30 game season ahead, with ten non-conference matchups and 20 South Atlantic Conference contests. They open their conference schedule at the reigning regular and tournament champion, Wingate University Bulldogs on Sept. 5. A week later, the Cobras take on Queens University of Charlotte Royals, who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Division II tournament, in Charlotte, as the second conference matchup of the season. The home opener for the Cobra women's volleyball team, and third SAC competition, finished second in the regular season and in the tournament, Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters.
"We're looking forward to our first home game. We're ready for everyone to come out and see what we've prepared," stated Reid.
"I think we're looking forward to just playing, but also getting those conference wins and making a name for ourselves in the SAC," said coach Rowland. "The team has a motto on the back of their shirts that says, 'Remember the Name'. We want to be remembered and we want people to have to work their butts off to beat us. We're going to be taken seriously and we're excited about that."
2017 SAC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll
|School (1st Place Votes)||Total Votes|
|1. Wingate (10)||100|
|2. Lincoln Memorial||81|
|3. Anderson (1)||76|
|4. Queens (N.C.)||75|
|10. Mars Hill||22|
2017 Preseason First Team All-Conference
Oakley Attaway, Wingate
Rachel Burts, Anderson
Emily Conlin, Anderson
Marissa Mitter, Anderson
Samantha Cash, Lincoln Memorial
Brooke Redmond, Lenoir-Rhyne
Emily Steele, Lenoir-Rhyne
DS: Melissa Mazur, Tusculum
2017 Preseason Second Team All-Conference
Kiera Holland, Lincoln Memorial
Rachel Alles, Wingate
Rebecca Cochran, Queens (N.C.)
Katie Bludau, Wingate
Serena Jackson, Anderson
Sydney Kunz, Queens
Tone Gill, Lincoln Memorial
DS: Treslyn Ortiz, Wingate