Volleyball defeats Washington and Lee, looks to build


In a 3-2 set match game, Guilford volleyball beat Washington and Lee at home for the first time in 22 years.

“Physically we really focused in on being disciplined in our defense and understanding that Washington and Lee really plays a different style of offense,” Guilford Volleyball Head Coach Emily Gann said. “It’s not complicated. They just do what they do really well. They are big, powerful hitters. They don’t run fancy combinations that you have to communicate about, so really we knew what was coming at us. Also, our team watched film on their own and they kind of coached each other up on ‘hey do this’ or ‘hey do that.’

“We played on Friday night which was kind of an easier match, so we came back to the gym on Saturday and prepared with our sports psychologist Maddy. We met with her for an hour, and then we went into a kind of a mentally challenging practice … it was nice to see our team come together at that point.”

Leading the team in kills and points scored were starters Cam Blankenship and Christian Ritter.

Blankenship, a first-year from Fieldale, VA, had 16 kills and a total of 19 points. Ritter, a senior from Asheboro, NC, had 14 kills and scored a total of 15 points. The pair scored 34 points combined out of the team’s overall score of 79.

“Our main theme for this year is not worrying about who is on the other side of the net, but how we are going to consistently execute on our side,” Ritter said. “We also wanted to put emphasis on creating our own energy as well as playing our role, and with those things that’s what brought us success.”

“I knew Washington and Lee was a really strong team even though I’ve never played against them,” Blankenship said. “Although I didn’t know that we hadn’t beaten them in 22 years until my aunt told me after the game. At the time I was just excited that we were able to compete with them, let alone beat them. I think it’s a phenomenal start for our (first-year) class. It sets a high precedence for all of us, especially for the next three years, and I’m excited to see what else we can achieve as a team.”

“Beating Washington and Lee to me was a big deal for many reasons,” Ritter said. “One was that in my four years of playing for (Guilford) we have come close on multiple occasions but could not finish the task, so conquering that was a beal deal. Also it showed the Guilford community as well as the Guilford alumni that the volleyball program continues to take positive and productive steps forward each year.”

“Going into this year, we’ve set some pretty big goals for our team, but we don’t really like talking long term,” Gann said. “However, Washington and Lee has been the only team that we have not beaten. Washington and Lee was also the only team I’ve never beaten in my 14 years here as a coach. There was a huge social media burst of energy. I had about ten girls (alumni) send me flowers in congratulations. It wasn’t just about the immediate ‘us’ here on campus, it’s bigger than that, and it was big for our program.”

The team’s record currently sits at 9-6.They have amassed a 3-2 record in Old Dominion Athletic Conference play, which has them tied for 3rd in the standings with Washington and Lee University.

The Quakers will host Roanoke on Oct. 2nd at 7 p.m. Following the home game, the team will travel to face conference foe Lynchburg on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 1 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 4, 2019.