NORTHFIELD, Vt. - In her seventh year leading Norwich volleyball Head Coach Ashlynn Nuckols will return her entire starting lineup for the 2018 season as the Cadets try to improve on the success of last year and climb the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) ranks.
Nuckols and the Cadets went 12-14 a year ago while posting a 3-9 mark within the GNAC. The highlight of the season came between September 6th and 20th, as the Cadets rattled off nine straight wins while only dropping five sets during their winning streak. This season, the bar for a successful season will be set a little higher.
"I'm returning my starting six, so all are going to be impact players on the court and are expected to step up," Coach Nuckols said. "The team worked hard at upping their game and making it a more fast-paced gameplan. My expectation is for us to continue to improve on the success we had last season."
Norwich's offensive attack runs through senior setter Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio), who racked up 630 assists last year, the third highest season total in Norwich history, and averaged 6.92 assists per set, the second highest mark in the program's history. Appearing in all 26 matches for the Cadets, Oliver recorded double-digit assists in every game, including a career-high 44 assists in two different matches during the season.
Zummo led the team last year with 194 kills during her junior season while sophomore Julia Schroeder led the team with 61 service aces and 29 blocks (nine solo) on the season while racking up 170 kills in her first season in the maroon and gold. Her classmate Kathryn Farnum finished up her freshman year with 156 kills on an impressive .217 attacking percentage. All three are expected to be major factors in an offense that averaged 9.18 kills per set a year ago on a .146 hitting percentage.
Entering the season with the highest digs per set average (3.41) in program history and already ninth all-time in career digs (505), Brianna Dawson (Katonah, N.Y.) returns to Norwich for her junior season after a strong sophomore effort. Dawson racked up 280 digs last year on a 3.11 per set average, including a monster 31 dig effort against Castleton on October 25th. For that performance, she received the GNAC Libero of the Week honor, the first Norwich weekly honor since 2011.
Other returners who are coming off solid seasons a year ago include Marissa Perrotti (Moultonborough, N.H.), Monika Schneider (Brookline, N.H.), Sara Goodson (Manassas, Va.), and Rebecca Finley (Waynesville, Mo.) who all look to take the next step forward and continue to make their mark on the court.
The Cadets are bringing in two new faces in the form of freshmen Olivia Brown (Rye, N.H.) and Addison Hall (Apple Valley, Calif.), who will look to carve out their share of the playing time on a very deep and experienced roster. "The newcomers are fitting in great, they bring more talent and the opportunity to switch things around and incorporate new schemes," Coach Nuckols commented.
Things will get started for the Cadets on September 2nd, as they travel to Southern Vermont College to participate in the inaugural Vermont Volleyball Classic. Norwich will compete against three other Vermont teams, starting with Northern Vermont University-Lyndon on September 2nd at 12:00 PM. GNAC play will get started with a September 8th trip to Albertus Magnus for a tri-match against the hosting Falcons and the Saints of Emmanuel College.