The 2016 North Coast volleyball season kicked off last weekend with league teams combining for an overall record of 23-11 in non-conference competition, which included DePauw, Hiram, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster all posting 3-1 marks on the opening weekend of play. League teams return to the court this week with non-conference matches scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday, while weekend action will once again feature numerous teams competing in early season tournaments.
ALLEGHENY opened the season at the Saint Vincent Bearcat Challenge by posting a pair of 3-0 wins over Pitt.-Greensburg and Saint Vincent. Junior middle hitter Leah Franzluebbers (Wethersfield, CT/East Catholic) was active on the court for the Gators over the weekend with 44 kills, 13 blocks, five digs and three aces in 14 total sets. In addition, junior Justine Kelly (Seattle, WA/Mountlake Terrace) handed out 144 set assists on the weekend to move into ninth on the program’s all-time list with 1,938 career assists.
DENISON traveled to Capital University for its season-opening tournament where the Big Red went 2-1 overall with a pair of 3-1 wins over Earlham and Capital. Senior outside hitter Rachele Lock (Chicago, IL/St. Ignatius) combined for 27 kills and 28 digs in DU’s two wins, while also adding eight kills and 12 more digs in a 3-1 loss against Otterbein.
DEPAUW went 3-1 at the season-opening Baden Invitational in St. Louis, Missouri, which included a 3-1 victory over the host and sixth-ranked Washington (MO) on Friday night. It marked the program’s first-ever victory over the Bears. Junior setter Keegan Kollias (Zionsville, IN/Zionsville) was named to the all-tournament team in St. Louis after totaling 148 set assists, 37 digs, 17 kills, six blocks and three aces in the four matches combined.
HIRAM posted a 3-1 record at the La Roche Tournament, collecting wins over Chatham, 3-0, Washington & Jefferson, 3-0, and York, 3-1. Senior outside hitter Marissa Jay (Parma, OH/Padua Franciscan) picked up the 1,000th kill of her career over the weekend after finishing the two-day event with 70 kills and a .251 hitting percentage, which included setting down 20 kills with a .366 hitting percentage in the victory over Chatham.
KENYON got its season off on the right foot last week with three wins over Capital, 3-1, Ohio Christian, 3-0, and Otterbein, 3-0. The Ladies’ lone loss of the week came against Case on Saturday. The 3-1 start is the program’s best since starting the 2011 season with the same record. In 13 total sets on the week, sophomore outside hitter Delaney Swanson (Sonoma, CA/Sonoma Valley) totaled a team-best 52 kills against just 17 hitting errors for a .243 hitting percentage. She also racked up 43 digs on the week, which included a 17-dig performance in the loss against Case.
OBERLIN opened the season with a pair of losses on Friday at the La Roche Tournament, but the Yeowomen bounced back on Saturday with a pair of wins over La Roche, 3-0, and Hiram, 3-2, in a non-conference match against NCAC foes. In the win over Hiram, freshman outside hitter Lexi Mitchell (Fort Mill, SC/Providence Day) paced the Yeowomen with 17 kills, eight digs and four aces. In 17 total sets on the weekend, Mitchell compiled 51 kills, 29 digs, eight aces and three blocks.
OHIO WESLEYAN, which appears in the “Others Receiving Votes” portion of the AVCA Preseason Poll, went 3-1 at the Ohio Northern Invitational with wins against Defiance, 3-0, Thomas More, 3-2, and ONU, 3-1. The Bishops’ lone loss on the weekend came against 19th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan by a 3-0 margin. Senior right-side hitter Shelby Ksiazek (Littleton, CO/Regis Jesuit) was named to the all-tournament team after finishing the weekend with 40 kills, 13 blocks and six digs. In the win over ONU, she tallied 18 kills against just three hitting errors in 33 total attempts for a .455 hitting percentage.
WITTENBERG, ranked second in the AVCA Preseason Poll, opened its season at the Mount Union Invitational with a 2-1 record. With the team battling several injuries, the Tigers dropped its season-opener against No. 17 Hope, 3-0, but they bounced back on Saturday with a pair of wins over Bethany, 3-1, and Mount Union, 3-0. Sophomore outside hitter Maddie Fischer (Minerva, OH/Minerva) paced the Tigers on the weekend with 32 kills, 18 digs, four blocks and one service ace in 10 total sets.
WOOSTER joined Allegheny at the Saint Vincent Bearcat Challenge and also posted a 3-1 record on the weekend with wins against Franciscan, 3-1, Muskingum, 3-0, and Westminster, 3-0. Junior setter Taylor Mathews (Dover, OH/Dover) registered three double-double performances on the weekend, while senior middle hitter Lydia Webster (Fredericktown, OH/Fredericktown) was named to the all-tournament team after tallying 31 kills, 22 digs, 10 blocks and five service aces in 13 total matches on the weekend, which included racking up 14 digs, eight kills, four blocks and three aces in the season-opening win over Franciscan.