The College returns this fall for its second year under Head Coach Melissa Shelton ’91 with the majority of its starting lineup coming back from last year’s 19-9 (9-5 CAA) campaign. Last season included an impressive 11-match winning streak which lead to a fourth-place CAA finish, and expectations are set extremely high for this season.
“We have the talent to win it all [in the CAA],” Shelton said.
Preseason rankings agree with Shelton’s assessment, slotting the Tribe second in the coaches’ poll behind reigning-champion Delaware.
The squad will be led by a strong core of senior leadership including Lindsey Pflugner, Bryana Carey, Katie McCarney and Lauren Powell.
“Our seniors have a sense of urgency being in their last year,” Shelton said. “They must communicate their beliefs and desires to our underclassmen.”
That quartet will be backed by all-region honorable mention selection junior Erin Skipper, who led the CAA in kills and points last year.
The rest of the Tribe is deep as well. Freshman setter Jordyn Moloney seamlessly stepped in for injured junior setter Cassie Crumal early this season, earning CAA Rookie of the Week honors in the process.
The College is currently 5-2 coming off a second-place finish playing host at the Tribe Invitation, falling to Ohio State in the championship match. Last weekend in the Appalachian State Invitational, the Tribe won two of its three matches.
“We have learned a lot from our [non-conference] wins and losses,” Pflugner said. “We know on any day, anyone can win.”
The College will continue its non-conference schedule by traveling to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Georgetown Invitational and Dallas, Texas for the SMU Challenge.
“With two weeks remaining [before CAA matches], we are trying to figure out our best lineup,” Shelton said.
As CAA title-contenders, the College will begin its conference schedule Sept. 26, when they battle CAA regular season runner-up Virginia Commonwealth University at home.
The College continues its conference schedule throughout October and November, including a difficult three-match home stand against CAA-foes VCU, Northeastern and Hofstra, who ousted the Tribe from last year’s conference tournament. The Tribe’s schedule will culminate in the CAA Conference Tournament held Nov. 20-22, where the top four teams compete for the title. The winner automatically receives a bid to the NCAA Tournament, a feat the Tribe has not accomplished since 2001.
The College’s next home match is against VCU at Kaplan Arena Sept. 26.
Across the Net: Senior Lauren Powell
When William and Mary takes on Southern Methodist in Dallas, Texas, Sept. 19, Tribe senior outside hitter Lauren Powell will line up across from someone familiar – her younger sister Dana.
Coming from Tulsa, Ok., Powell has played against her younger sister in the club volleyball system, but because of their positions, they were always on the opposite side of the court, diagonal from each other. In less than two weeks, they will be lined up face-to-face, separated by only a few feet and a net. The distance is almost synonymous to their relationship – Powell says her sister is her “best friend.”
Powell, who is second for the College in both kills per game and digs per game this season, optimistically assures that the Tribe is going to beat SMU. And since the game will be held only three hours away from Powell’s hometown, both parents plan to attend the game. Powell says that they will try to sit in the middle and sport apparel for both schools.