Losing just four letterwinners from a 2017 program that posted a NCAC postseason victory, the Hiram College women's volleyball team will look to build off of past experience to once again climb back to the top of the North Coast Athletic Conference.
New but familiar faces will captain the ship for the team in 2018, as head men's volleyball coach, Kyle Mars, takes over the reins of the women's team.
Mars has served as the men's coach for the past two seasons and will serve as the Director of Volleyball operations and head coach of both teams.
Also new to the Hiram coaching staff is assistant coach Brittany Dye, who returns to her alma mater to help take the Terriers back to championship form.
Dye, a former player for the Terriers when Director of Athletics, Ellen Dempsey, served as the head volleyball coach, was a member of Hiram's 2006 NCAC Championship team, and on two teams that earned berths into the NCAA National Championship tournament. Since then, Dye has stayed local, most recently serving as the head volleyball coach at Crestwood High School.
As for the team, senior Holly Hoffman will serve as the captain for the 2018 squad. The lone senior will lead a group of three juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman.
Last season, Hoffman ranked second on team in total assists (523) while also posting 263 digs on the year. This season, she will look to have a more influential role on the team, serving as the primary setter for the team.
Following her first season with the Terriers, Walker was named a Second-Team All-NCAC selection.
Splitting time as both an outside hitter and a setter, Walker led the team in assists with 609. In addition, she added 268 digs and 76 kills, while ranking second in the conference in service aces (46). Showing her versatility, Walker currently has 12-career double-doubles and a triple-double to her credit.
Franks is perhaps the most effective weapon returning for the Terriers on the outside. In 2017, the NCAC-Honorable Mention selection led Hiram with 266 kills. She tallied at least nine kills on 14 separate occasions, posting a conference-best 28 kills against Case Western Reserve University.
Offensively, Hiram returns their top two kill performers from a season ago, as sophomore Kayla Cole looks to build off of her first year success. Cole finished 2017 with 228 kills on the season, while ranking second on the team with 301 digs. Cole produced eight double-doubles o the season, including a 24-kill, 16-dig performance in a NCAC Quarterfinal win over Wooster.
Also returning to add to the offensive firepower includes juniors Jessica Caspio and Madison Fortune, as well as sophomore Jaya Martin. Sophomore transfer Natasha DaCosta will also help round out the rotation offensively.
In the back row, defensive specialist Lindsey Stahl makes her return for her second season on the court. As a freshman, Stahl played in 29 of the 30 matches, ranking fifth in the NCAC in total digs (465). Stahl tallied at least 20 digs, six times on the year, and broke the 30-dig mark, twice.
Along with Stahl, junior Amber Ricketts, along with sophomore Nikkia Schady, both make their return and will help provide depth at the position. Additionally, freshman Gabrielle Baker will look to add her skills to the back row.
Hiram will open the season in Pittsburgh, Pa., with a trio of games at the La Roche College tournament. The Terriers will take on Chatham University on Friday, before competing against both Medaille and La Roche on Saturday afternoon.
Following the opening weekend, the Terriers will open their home slate on Tuesday, September 4, as they play host to Adrian College at 6:30 p.m.
10 days later, Hiram will host a two-day tournament on Sept. 14 and 15, playing home matches against Washington & Jefferson College, Frostburg State University and Albion College.
The NCAC season then opens on September 22 as the Terriers take on Ohio Wesleyan University at 1 p.m. Other notable home NCAC matches include Denison (Sept. 29), Oberlin (Oct. 10) and Allegheny (Oct. 16), while Hiram will travel to conference foes; Wittenberg (Oct. 5), DePauw (Oct. 6), Wooster (Oct. 13) and Kenyon (Oct. 20).
Check out our two-part interview with Head Coach Kyle Mars