Photo Courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team will lift the lid on its 2018 regular season this weekend with four matches in South Carolina. LMC will take on Virginia Union and Coker Friday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively in Hartsville. Following those two matches, the Bobcats will travel to Florence where they will take on Winston-Salem State and Francis Marion Saturday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
About the Bobcats – Lees-McRae will be under new leadership this fall as Caitlin Bullock was hired as the program's new Head Coach in late June. Bullock, who comes to LMC after spending the past three seasons as an assistant coach for the men's and women's volleyball programs at King, will look to help the Bobcats improve on their 7-18 overall record from a season ago in 2018.
Bullock will have eight players back from the 2017 squad to help in the transition. Among the returners are Elissa Small, Caitlyn Smirne and Kaci Thornton who were named players to watch for Lees-McRae this fall in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll. In the same poll, the Bobcats were selected to finish ninth in the league standings this season.
Notes on the Newcomers – The Head Coach will not be the only new face on the sideline for the Bobcats this fall as the team added four new players during the offseason. The newest Bobcats include: Erica Slinde (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.), McKenzie Sprabary (Denton, Texas), Megan Gallion (Fall River Mills, Calif.) and Kaden Hill (Bethlehem, Ga.). Slinde, Sprabary and Hill all join LMC from their respective high school programs, while Gallion transfers to Lees-McRae after attending Feather River Community College.
About the Opponents – Virginia Union hopes to build upon two straight winning seasons as it gets its 2018 season underway this weekend. Individually, the Panthers figure to be led by the duo of Akira Baker and A'rmaria Wright who were named to the Preseason All-CIAA team last week.
Coker, meanwhile, is coming off a rebound season in 2017 as it won 14 matches. The 14 victories were the most by the Cobras since the 2007 season. Leading the charge for this new success for Coker is junior Taylor Du Bray. As a sophomore, Du Bray shattered the Coker school record with 340 kills on her way to capturing All-SAC Honorable Mention honors.
In 2017, Winston-Salem State captured the CIAA conference championship on its way to a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Rams finished 2017 with a record of 22-8 overall and a 14-2 mark within their conference. Senior right side hitter Mia Herrod figures to power the Rams offense this fall after leading the CIAA with 276 as a junior last season.
Francis Marion, which competes out of the Peach Belt Conference, finished its 2017 season with a record of 9-18 overall and 3-9 in PBC play. FMU was a young team last season as over half of its roster were freshmen. This youthful trend continues for the Patriots as they enter 2018 as nine of the 12 players on their roster are either sophomores or freshmen.
Series History vs. Opponents - The Bobcats have sizable histories with three of their four opponents this weekend. The one team that Lees-McRae hasn't seen a lot of over the years is its first opponent, Virginia Union. Since 2005, the Bobcats and Panthers have met twice with LMC coming out on top both times.
The final three opponents for the Bobcats this weekend are much more familiar. LMC holds a record of 13-1 against Coker since 2005 with the last meeting occurring in 2012. Furthermore, the Bobcats are 4-1 against Winston-Salem State and 6-3 against Francis Marion.