The UNCG Spartan volleyball team is ready and excited to start their new season. Last year, the blue and gold finished second in the Southern Conference finishing their season 18-13 overall and 11-5 in SoCon play.
The team will be without a few key players, losing them to graduation at the end of the 2016-2017 season: outside hitters Alexis Mourier and Jessica Brezwyn, setter Sara Hohman and middle hitter Chinwendu Ngwadom. They also lost two non-senior players as well: Conference hitting percentage leader redshirt sophomore Jasmine Jones (middle hitter) and number nine in the conference in service aces freshman Ronnie Katarzynski. However, the team is welcoming in three new freshman, outside hitters Maria Esch and Holly Behrends, and setter Giana Rasmussen.
Number three in the conference in kills last year, Ashley Muench, who is a 2015 and 2016 first team all conference player and who was named to the 2017 preseason all conference team, will be returning for her senior year. The former SoCon leader in assist, Allison Penner, is returning for her junior campaign at UNCG hoping to bolster up her already impressive resume of 2015 SoCon freshman of the year and a 2016 first team all conference player spot. She also joins Muench on the 2017 preseason all conference team. Christina Gregory makes the third and final Spartan on the preseason team. During her tenure, she holds a 2016 SoCon Libero of year and second team all conference player.
The Spartans lead the conference last year in assists, digs and kills. The team is looking to have a successful year having three players on the preseason all conference team, with one being a senior and having three other seniors to help lead the way, middle hitter Annchara Montgomery, outside hitter Katie Wagner and defensive specialist Anna Romaniszyn.
The Spartans have two very interesting non conference matchups this year, one against the Florida Gators who were 27-4 last season and the Michigan State Spartans who were 25-9 last season. These games will be played in Gainesville Florida for the University of Florida Tournament.
There are also two new faces alongside Head Coach Corey Carlin who is now entering his fourth year as the Spartans head coach. One of the new faces being Taylor Pritchett, who is entering her first season as an Assistant Coach with the UNCG volleyball program. She served as a volunteer Assistant Coach last year for NC State. She played collegiate volleyball at Lees- McRae college, Buffalo and Northwood, all under current UNCG assistant James Goodridge. Goodridge, who is now entering his first season as the Spartans Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, brings ten years of coaching experience to UNCG. He worked as a Head Coach and Assistant Coach ranging from Division I to Division III, he also served as a volunteer Assistant Coach at the University of Virginia last season.
UNCG has what it takes to win a lot of games this year and with them coming up just short of being regular season champions last season. To add fuel to the fire, defending regular season champions ETSU was picked to win the conference again this year in the preseason voting. Now it’s up to the Spartans to prove to everyone who’s doubted them that they have what it takes to become conference champions not only in the regular season but in postseason play as well. This season is definitely going to be worth watching; every game is going to be crucial. All we can do now is sit back, relax and watch the season play out. The opening matches will be played this Friday and Saturday in the “Spartan-Demon Deacon Classic.” The team will be hosting UMass-Lowell on Friday night and a double header on Saturday against Morgan State in the afternoon Wake Forest at night.