The Wesley College volleyball team enters the 2015 campaign with a clean slate, a fresh outlook, and a new head coach. Former Wilmington University volleyball player Lindsay Miller has taken over the reins of the program this season, inheriting a solid team with a large nucleus of returners that seem ready to take the program to the next level.
"I love this game" said Coach Miller, "I love playing it. I love teaching it. I love being around it." Her energy and enthusiasm were two of the biggest factors in her hire, according to athletic director Mike Drass. It's been contagious in the preseason as the volleyball team prepares for the upcoming season.
The Wolverines return nearly their entire lineup this season, including their top four hitters from last season and their top defensive specialist. Along the front line, Tionne Graves-Brown, Jessica Tynes, Tania Rounds, and Codi Ziolkowski each enter their sophomore season. Last season, the freshman foursome combined for over 500 kills, and will look to continue improving as an offensive unit. Meg Fernandez, Charlene Coyne and Arnelle Akakpo also return to bolster the offense and defense at the net.
On the back line, libero Meghan Marshall returns for her senior season after leading the squad in digs last season. Marshall averaged nearly four digs per set and proved crucial on defense all season. Beth Schlecker will return as the Wolverines top setter. She led the squad with 458 assists in 2014, and finished second on the team with 40 service aces. Samantha Weber may also prove a weapon for the Wolverines, finishing fourth on the team in service aces per set last season. Freshmen Juanita Petty and Kristin Wissler will look to find their roles among the strong returning core this season.
Wesley will have a tough road ahead as they compete in one of the nation's most competitive volleyball conferences, the Capital Athletic Conference. "Several teams in our conference compete at the level of the teams competing for a national championship. Our goal is to make those tough games more competitive than they have been in the past," said Miller. "Our ultimate goal is to improve last year's record both in and out of conference."
The transition to their new coach has been seamless for the Wolverines as they prepare for their season. Miller credits that to team captains Marshall and Schlecker. "They've done an outstanding job in terms of bringing the girls together and keeping them focused," said Miller.
Wesley begins the season on Sept. 1 when they play host to Notre Dame College (Md.) and will travel up and down the east coast before returning home on Sept. 22 to take on Immaculata. Conference play begins on Sept. 25 when the Wolverines host Mary Washington.
With just a few days until the start of the season, the Wolverines seem poised to improve upon last year's performance. Miller was pleased with the team's progress in preseason: "These girls have pushed themselves physically and mentally and I'm confident that each one of them will continue to do so in order to take this team and this program to the next level."