Looking to continue to build on the success of the past, the Terrier volleyball team will look to usher in a new era under third-year head coach Aline Scott.
As a program, the Terriers have seen eight-consecutive 20-win seasons, dating back to 2009. However, the team will enter the year with a slightly different look as Hiram returns five letterwinners and sees an influx of 10 fresh faces in 2017.
Tasked with replacing four starters during the offseason, Coach Scott hit the recruiting trail with force, bringing in a total of eight freshmen and one junior transfer.
Looking to lead the way for the Terriers will be senior captain Grace Wilson, who is the returning offensive weapon. Last season, Wilson ranked second on the team in kills, behind only NCAC Player of the Year, Marissa Jay. Wilson tallied a hitting percentage of .244 and posted double-digit kills performances, eight times on the year.
Other returning letter winners for the Terriers include senior Jessica Fontana, as well as sophomores Madison Fortune, Amber Ricketts and Jess Caspio. Ricketts will also serve the Terriers as one of the team captains in 2017.
The returning team leader in digs, Fortune posted 181 last season in 85 sets as an outside hitter. The sophomore from Lorain, Ohio notched double-digit digs, seven times, including a career-high of 19 in a five-set win over John Carroll.
Fontana, meanwhile, was one of the most efficient hitters for the Terriers in 2016, posting a hitting percentage of .259 while totaling 159 kills and 44 total blocks in 92 sets. The senior notched at least seven kills, 11 times on the year as a junior and will look to take another step forward in her senior campaign.
As is the case with most positions on the roster in 2017, the Terriers will look to their newly acquired talent to help solidify the outside hitter position. Sophomore Summer Schervish and freshmen Kayla Cole, Kiera Franks, and Jaya Martin will look to join Wilson and Fortune on the outsides this season.
Cole comes to Hiram after a solid career at Louisville High School, where she was a three-time letterwinner while also earning All-Conference and All-District honors.
No stranger to a winning program, Franks joins Hiram after earning three letters at Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph and helping the Vikings to back-to-back Final Four appearances in the OHSAA State Tournament.
In the middle of the floor, Destinee Harris joins Hiram after helping Berea-Midpark to back-to-back district semifinal appearances. The 6-2 freshman earned a trio of All-Conference accolades, including Second-Team All-Southwestern Conference honors as a senior. Harris will look to partner with Fontana in the middle to help the Terriers improve upon their sixth-place conference ranking in blocks per game from last season (1.52).
Overall, defensively, the Terriers were solid throughout the 2016 campaign, ranking second in the NCAC in opponents hitting percentage (.144) and third in digs per set (17.72). However, with the loss of graduating senior Megan Schaefer, it will be up to Ricketts and newcomers Lindsey Stahl and Nikkia Schady to carry the mantle on the back row.
Last season, Ricketts appeared in 56 sets as a freshman, totaling 82 digs, while also adding six service aces. Stahl, meanwhile, comes to Hiram after earning a pair of letters at Elkhart Memorial High School.
Walker played four seasons for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, capturing four varsity letters and earning four First-Team All-District honors. As a senior, she did it all for the fighting Irish, recording 377 assists and 246 kills.
Hoffman, a local product from nearby Crestwood High School, flourished in two seasons at Cuyahoga Community College. The junior was the lone player for the Challengers to record over 100 kills, assists and digs last season.
Hiram will open the season at the Marietta College River City Classic on Friday and Saturday, September 1 and 2. The Terriers will then open their home schedule on Sept. 5 against Muskingum University, but will play just two home matches (Sept. 19 – Mount Union) before opening NCAC play at Ohio Wesleyan on September 23.