By Bryant Marks
SOUTH PRINCE GEORGE, VA - In 2018, the Richard Bland College of William & Mary Women's Volleyball team finished the season strong and in the 2019 season looks to pick up where it left off.
Finishing 17-8 while adding a NJCAA District Tournament birth and a Region X Championship along the way, the Statesmen look to make a repeat performance. Led by 2018 Region X Coach of the Year, Scott Newton, RBC is ready for new challenges this year after losing a majority of the roster from last season, including Region X Player of the Year Harper Smith.
"Last year was important for establishing the foundation of our program," says Newton. "Winning the Region X Championship and competing with some of the top competition in the country in the NJCAA Divison 1 Regionals sets the pathway to building a strong and consistent program."
The Statesmen will open their season at home against Sandhills Community College and Montgomery College (MD) on Saturday, August 24, 2019, at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm in a tri-match. This year's schedule features more matches from outside Region X as the team will travel to Jacksonville, Florida and the Bronx to face many quality programs to prepare them for another NJCAA Division I Tournament run.
RBC enters the 2019 season minus 11 players from the previous season, including Smith who finished the season compiling a team high in kills with 333 along with 208 digs and 50 blocks. "Without Harper as our go-to player, this year's team will have more balance," says Newton. "We will be strong in all aspects of the game and will look for multiple players to contribute and have a balanced statistical team. We can expect to see the same strong powerhouse offense. We can also expect to see some of the new players becoming contributing factors to our wins.
"All schools deal with losing a lot of players each year, more so at the JUCO level," Newton adds. "The program will continue to recruit top players who have a desire to work hard and take us to the next level."
Adding seven new players along with seven returners, here is a breakdown of what to expect from the Statesmen this season:
The Statesmen are adding Ohio State transfer, Ayanna Swan along with Emma Lazerson, a strong, young hitter who will bring consistency to the team. They will join returners Tabatha Green and Mallory Cunningham on the pins.
In the middle, Heather Phelps returns for her sophomore season. Also, the Statesmen add another young, good-sized middle from Virginia Beach, Anniya Powell. "[I am] really looking forward to watching them battle it out on the court," Newton says.
The position that is most up for grabs is the Libero/DS position. Returner, Sydni Presson, and two freshmen, Jolie Kamm and Sierra Spade, will all look to bring something special to the team. "They will be the key to our success being our first contact on defense," Newton says in regards to the Libero/DS.
"I am anxious to get in the gym with the seven returners and seven new athletes and working to improve where we finished last season," says Newton. "We are slowly creating a powerhouse here at Richard Bland and these athletes are going to a contributing factor to our success."