Photos Courtesy of Gerry Wall
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Entering the first season under new Head Coach Caitlin Bullock, the Lees-McRae College Women's Volleyball team was picked to finish ninth in the Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll. Additionally, Elissa Small, Caitlyn Smirne and Kaci Thornton were all selected as players to watch for LMC this fall.
As a sophomore in 2017, Small set new career-bests in kills (124) and blocks (13) in 23 matches played. She posted five double-figure kill outings last fall, including a 15-kill performance against Fayetteville State that matched a career-high.
Smirne paced LMC's freshman class from a season ago in several statistical categories. The Winterville, N.C. native finished second on the team with 154 kills and sixth in digs with 155. Her best performance as a freshman came against Emmanuel in late September where she totaled 21 kills to go along with 10 digs.
After transferring to Lees-McRae, Thornton stepped up and led the Bobcat attack with 155 kills in 2017. Thornton also finished third on the squad in aces (20) and digs (223). The Lubbock, Texas native picked up four double-doubles in her first season in a Bobcat uniform, including a 17-kill, 16-dig performance against Emmanuel.
Barton was picked to win the conference title in the coaches' poll after collecting 97 points and seven of the 11 first-place votes. The Bulldogs were followed by Emmanuel with 87 points, Belmont Abbey with 78 points and North Greenville with 74 points. Emmanuel was the only other team besides Barton to receive a first-place vote among the top four teams in the poll.
The next four teams were Southern Wesleyan (71 points), King (51 points), Limestone (50 points) and Mount Olive (34 points). SWU picked up the 11th and final first-place vote in the poll. Rounding out the poll were the Bobcats with 27 points followed by Erskine (21 points) and Converse (15 points).
Lees-McRae will host Mars Hill August 21 in Williams Gymnasium in an exhibition match. First serve for that contest is set for 7 p.m. LMC will then kick off its regular season on August 24-25 when it heads to the Palmetto State for four matches in the Coker/Francis Marion Tournament.