Kevin Stiner, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
ST. LOUIS –The Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team opens the 2019 season ranked 14thi n the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Top-25 poll, as announced by the organization on Wednesday.
A total of 12 letterwinners return for the Bears that led WashU to a 26-8 record and the 32nd straight berth into the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
“The preseason ranking is a nice compliment to all the alums and returnees on the past success of the program,” said head coach Vanessa Walby. “We’re excited to get back on campus and work towards sustaining the success of the WashU Bears tradition.”
Last season’s squad helped Walby surmount 300 career victories. Overall, Walby is 309-109 (.739) in her career including 146-38 mark at WashU. Three Bears return that earned All-University Athletic Association (UAA) honors in 2018.
Senior libero Zoe Baxter, senior middle hitter Leila King and junior setter Kirby Knapp were recognized for their efforts in 2018 by the UAA and will take on leadership roles as the captains of the 2019 roster. All three led the Bears in different areas last season including Baxter in digs (558), King in blocks per set (1.02) and Knapp in assists (1,086).
The Bears schedule features five teams listed in the AVCA Top-25 preseason ranking, not including three additional programs listed in the receiving votes section. WashU will host three tournaments on the season, including the East to West Battle which five of the six programs have accounted for 16 Division III National Championships since 1989.
Also returning for the Bears are seniors Emily Jayne, Chloe Stile and Hannah Turner, juniors Tricia Brown and Rachel Cheng as well as sophomores Michaela Bach, Samantha Kaiser, Abby Li and Caitlin Lorenz. The returnees’ bond was made stronger with an international trip to Brazil as a team in the winter.
“The women really connected as a group in Brazil,” Walby shared. “It was a life changing trip and helped the team come together.”
A total of seven freshmen will join the 2019 roster: Eve Baxter(Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard Westlake and The Oaks),Alaina Bohrer (Minneapolis, Minn./Edina), Amanda Gild (Dunwoody, Ga./Dunwoody),Taryn Gurbach (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Chadwick School), Julie Keener(Franklin, Tenn./Franklin),Kathy Lopez (Aurora, Ill./Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) and Megan Lucey (San Francisco, Calif./St. Ignatius College Prep).
WashU begins the year by hosting the Bear Invitational and will open the season against Fontbonne University in the WU Field House on Friday, Aug. 30 at 3 p.m.