Guilford’s volleyball just keeps on moving up. The team had a successful 2017 campaign going 12-11, improving from 12-14 last season and a trip to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament.
Although they lost in the quarterfinals of the tournament, the season was still successful and has players and coaches excited about the team’s future.
The team had several goals set for the season, and head coach Emily Gann and assistant coach Julia Mainwaring discussed a few of them.
“The first goal was to win conference and holding each other accountable (for strong play),” said Mainwaring. “They didn’t end up where they wanted, but it’s a stepping stone towards future goals.”
“Going 3-1 in the Averett tournament was one goal achieved,” Gann said. “Winning the first ODAC game was a goal achieved. We did not, however, achieve our goal of hosting a first round ODAC tournament game by being seeded 1-4.”
“Even though we didn’t come out with the goal we expected, it was still positive,” said first-year middle-backer Khaira Bolden said.
“This team continued to build on our success from last year,” said Gann. “We played a lot of first-years in the 2016 season and only graduated one starter. Having so many returning and those (first-years) having a year of experience definitely led us to play with more confidence.”
One of the most positive things that came out of the season was the team’s ODAC tournament win against Washington and Lee University.
However, the Quakers also notched key wins during the regular season, including a 3-1 victory over Lynchburg College. This win was particularly exciting for the team and a highlight of the season.
“This was the first time we have beaten Lynchburg in my tenure at Guilford,” said Gann.
Mainwaring and players agreed that this particular win was very exciting for the team.
“(the win) was exciting to celebrate with my teammates,” said Bolden.
The team success can be partly attributed to the good dynamic the players had.
“They really gelled and got along well on and off the court. They got to know each other well off the court, and they clicked pretty well,” said Mainwaring.
While the season was successful, the team did struggle with injuries near the end of it.
“The biggest challenge were the injuries,” said sophomore Christian Ritter. “Although it was a change, we took it, and ran with it and performed to the best of our ability.”
Mainwaring thought that the injuries contributed to the ODAC tournament loss.
At the end of the academic year, though, the team will lose two of their captains, rightside hitter Casey Davis and middle backer Heather Crawford, to graduation. This means that they will need to do some transitioning and rebuilding in the coming season.
“It’s always tough when you lose your seniors,” said assistant coach Julia Mainwaring.
She noted that despite the loss, the younger players were prepared to step in and lead.
“The seniors were a huge part of our success this year, so they will be hard to replace with that connection on the court, but it will be done,” said Ritter.
“I don’t think there will be anything our captains will be lacking,” Bolden said.
The team is currently in the initial stages of preparation for the 2018 campaign. Coach Gann talked a little bit about it and how they will handle the new dynamic.
“We are already beginning the process of preparing for next season,” said Gann. “We just selected our new captains for the 2018 team…this helps in the transition of leadership. Their first assignment will to be to implement an accountability program for the offseason to keep everyone motivated to work out and continue getting touches on the volleyball.”
The team can also celebrate the selection of sophomores outside hitter and defensive specialist Christian Ritter and setter Tina Eucker to the All-ODAC volleyball team. With a strong team bond, good playing and preparation, next year’s team should be an even bigger success.
“I feel very positive about where future seasons can go,” said Bolden.