BATESVILLE, Ark. – The Lyon College volleyball team made positive strides last season, finishing 17-17 with the most wins for the program since 2008. This year, the Scots look to make a bigger climb as they feature some solid returners and new faces with high potential.
In 2015 Lyon finished eighth in the American Midwest Conference, qualifying for the AMC Tournament. The Scots drew a tough challenge in the first round, playing No. 1 seed Columbia College and falling 3-0.
However, head coach Ray Green is looking for the team to turn its attention to 2016.
“Last year was our fourth year in the AMC and each year we’ve gotten better,” Green said. “The winning percentage is increasing and we look to break the .500 barrier and have a winning season in conference.”
The Scots lost five seniors in Emily Penrose, Kaitlyn Craine, Emily Sprick, Jordan Fleitman and Makenzie Sharp, but look to replace them with their returners and new faces.
Sprick played a big role last season as she was named an All-Conference honorable mention after totaling a team high 849 assists. She closed out her career with 3,128 assists – good for second in program history, and ranked ninth in total blocks with 205. Fleitman and Sharp also had tremendous careers, with Fleitman recording 243 total blocks - ranked eighth in team history and Sharp totaling 147 total blocks - ranked 13th. She also ranked second in the conference with 50 service aces. Penrose recorded 40 kills and 19 digs in 25 matches last season, while Craine had nine kills, 32 assists and 156 digs in all 34 matches played.
This year Lyon has three seniors, but all of them should make an impact on the court in Katarina Frickleton, Samantha Scalf and Brittney Beckham. Frickleton earned Second Team All-Conference honors after totaling a team high 312 kills, and finishing third in the AMC with a .310 hitting percentage. Beckham appeared in 15 matches and recorded 66 assists, while Scalf played 10 matches – recording three kills, four assists and 25 digs.
Michayla Shanks, Madisson Williams and Madison Sandborn also return after playing big roles. Shanks garnered honorable mention All-Conference after totaling 124 kills and leading the AMC with 53 service aces. Williams recorded 58 assists, 22 service aces and 389 digs, while Sandborn had 133 kills, 35 digs and 31 total blocks.
Maggie McNamara, Camille Clem, Olivia Iriana, Leilani Ocasio and Elley Lindsey will also look to contribute this season. McNamara totaled 19 kills, seven digs and three total blocks in 13 matches, while Clem had 36 kills, 34 assists, 29 digs and 15 total blocks in 18 matches played. Iriana had three kills 17 assists and 10 digs in 15 matches. Ocasio totaled five assists, 18 service aces and 38 digs in 27 matches, while Lindsey appeared in eight matches totaling four digs.
Green said the returners have looked good in the preseason, and hopes some can step onto the court and make an impact.
“They are healthy and in shape,” Green said. “Brittney is taking the helm at setter and running a great and quick offense. I think she’s going to do a great job of distributing the ball. Katarina as always is one of the best blockers in the conference and I expect her to continue that. Samantha (Scalf) is also coming along after having a great spring.”
The Scots will feature seven new players in Jordan Dabdub, Evelyn Embry, Taylor Williams, Valeria Idrogo, Kendra Kelly, Shelby Powell and Haley Clem.
Dabdub was named to the All-Area team and an All-Conference honorable mention in high school, while Embry and Williams received All-Conference and All-State. Kelly and Clem are both Batesville, Ark., natives. In high school Kelly was named to the All-State, All-Tournament and All-Conference team, while Clem transfers in from Missouri Valley College. Powell garnered All-State honors in high school, while Idrogo was an all-conference selection as a track athlete.
Green said he is looking forward to seeing how the new faces develop over the course of the season.
“They are eager and ready to learn,” Green said. “They’re competing very well and have looked great. I expect them to continue progressing at a rapid rate.”
Green also said he likes what he has seen from his players in practice during the preseason, and the recent Navy-Scarlet scrimmage earlier this week.
“From the end line we are always a strong serving team,” Green said. “Shanks was one of the top servers in the conference last year and she’s hitting the ball great from the end line and back row. Some of the kids that weren’t on the court a lot last year have really stepped up their game.”
Lyon opens the 2016 season at home on Aug. 27 against Philander-Smith College (Ark.). First serve is scheduled for 4 p.m.