WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The William College volleyball team heads into the 2018 season with a new look and an upbeat mindset for the upcoming year.
With a roster of 17, depth in every position, a ton of experience and leadership from the returning core of players and added potential from the newcomers, head coach Christi Kelsey is incredibly optimistic and excited about the opportunities ahead for this year. Kelsey, who enters her 10th season as coach, will be helped this season by Vanessa Brown, who moves from volunteer assistant into the head assistant coach chair for the season.
The Ephs, who finished 11-12 last season, will start with a senior class of five that includes captains Ally Ostrow, Tess Richman and Mia Weinland as well as Roxi Corbeil and Morgan Richman.
"I think the thing that stands out about the five of them … they have invested in each other since the first day they stepped on campus their freshman year. They have five unique personalities, but they have been able to help each other grow over four years and always found true value in one another and collectively as well. That incredibly tight bond and their experiences are going to help us out from the get-go.
|Ally Ostrow '19|
"Our captains have done a tremendous job setting the right tone and building the best team foundation since last May to give us an awesome place to start from for this season. All five seniors though are on board with the same message and collectively have hit the ground running here to start preseason. I am incredibly proud of them and excited to see how we progress going forward."
Ostrow is an outside hitter/defensive specialist who was second on the 2017 Ephs with 244 digs and 185 kills. Corbeil is a 6-foot, 2-inch opposite who also sees some time at setter. She was second on the squad with
75 assists. Weinland is 6-foot and can play opposite or outside. She notched 124 kills in 2017, third on the team. Tess Richman is a middle who led the team with 38 blocks last season while Morgan Richman is an opposite/defensive specialist who had 50 kills and 115 digs.
That senior group is complemented by a junior class comprised of 5-10 outside hitter Erin Denham, setter Alex Newton, libero Daiana Takashima and 5-10 middle hitter Natalie Albright. Denham, a 2017 All-NESCAC Second team selection, led the Ephs with 240 kills last season. Newton topped the team with 715 assists and also contributed 186 digs. Albright was second with 25 blocks. Takashima topped the squad with 392 digs and also notched 74 assists.
"The juniors are four very impactful people who have seen a lot of playing time and played a lot of different roles," Kelsey said. "Their experience is incredibly valuable and just adds to the overall level of our senior class. "A big strength for our team this year will be depth at every position. We have a lot of players who have played several positions on the court and that gives us the ability as coaches to put people in places where they can best complement each other with their skill sets and strengths. It also gives us the ability to really maximize the roles we ask people to play."
The sophomore class returns five players and adds an additional student-athlete for a total of six. The five returnees include defensive specialist Allison Frison, who finished fourth on the team in digs last season with 185; outside hitters Alicia Blanco and Ariana Altieri; middle Anna Wise and opposite Lauren Barry. The newcomer is middle/opposite Caleigh Paster, who hails from Burbank, Calif. In addition, Kelsey will have two first years, 6-0 middle/opposite hitter Olivia Hindy out of Summitt, N.J., and 5-9 outside hitter/setter/defensive specialist Lydia Kurtz out of Cincinnati.
|Mia Weinland '19|
"They are fully invested in what we're trying to do as a team this season," Kelsey said of the group. "I feel very confident in their motivation to really add to our team dynamic on and off the court."
|Tess Richman '19|
The Ephs will be challenged by their schedule. They open at the Union Invitational, playing Ramapo, Saint Michaels Skidmore and host Union. After a home opener against Vassar, they begin NESCAC play with Wesleyan and Conn. College. The Cardinals were the 2017 NESCAC champions. A trip to the Illinois Wesleyan Invitational follows and consist of four matches against Rose-Hulman, Milikin, Chicago and host Illinois-Wesleyan. After a string of mostly conference matches, the Ephs will travel to M.I.T. in late October for the New England Challenge.
"Our mindset this season is that every single day we walk into the gym presents an opportunity for us to get better," Kelsey said. "What is great about this group is they give 100 percent all of the time. That allows us to grow and see a lot of progress in short amounts of time. So what we're really excited about is not just setting goals, but focusing on improving ourselves every day. If we do that, a lot of really great things are in store for this group this season and it will be an incredibly fun process of which to be a part."