GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Guilford volleyball team opens its 2020-21 season on Thursday, March 18th, when the Quakers host Washington & Lee in a 7 p.m. match at Ragan-Brown Field House. Two days later, Guilford will head to Shenandoah for a 4 p.m. clash with the Hornets.
The Guilford roster includes five seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen.
Emily Gann, who is in her 16th season at the helm of the Quakers, returns two of her Top-4 kills leaders from the 2019 campaign—Cam Blankenship and Khaira Bolden. Blankenship finished off her freshman season with 239 kills (2.54 kills/set), which was second only to Christian Ritter, who ended the season with 270 kills. Blankenship topped the double figure kills mark on 12 occasions during her first season, including a single-match season-high 18 in a three-set win over Greensboro on October 10th where she posted a .325 hitting percentage.
Bolden was fourth in total kills with 154 (1.86 kills/set), putting together four double-digit kill performances over the course of the season. Her best single-match performance of the season came when she tallied 11 kills each against Lynchburg (October 5) and Eastern Mennonite (October 19).
Gann will also have leadership on the back row in the form of Bryce Smith, who posted the second-most digs (329) on the 2019 Guilford unit. Smith, who played in 27 matches in 2019, topped double-digit digs on 17 occasions. She twice recorded at least 20 digs in a match, which came against Salem (Sept. 14; 22) and later versus Eastern Mennonite (October 19), where she tallied a single-match season-high 23. Her best stretch of the season came between October 10 (vs. Greensboro) and November 2nd (at Shenandoah) where she had seven straight double-digit dig performances.
The duo of Bolden and Blankenship will be looked to anchor the front row defensively for the Quakers after combining for 104 total blocks in 2019. Bolden led all front row players with 72 blocks (58 assisted blocks), while Blankenship was fourth on the unit with 32 (28 assisted blocks).
Bolden had at least four total blocks in seven matches, posting a single-match season-high eight as the Quakers defeated crosstown rival Greensboro in four sets on October 10th. Meanwhile, Blankenship had multiple blocks in 12 matches, notching a single-match season-high four in a five-set clash with Salem on September 14th.
Washington & Lee (2-0, 2-0) has two matches under its belt entering Thursday, claiming victories over Bridgewater (3-1) and Ferrum (3-0) in succession. Brynne Gould leads the way with 25 kills and teammate Katy Blain has 18 for the Generals. On defense, Washington & Lee is led by Courtney Berry (eight blocks) and Caroline Gard (28 digs).
Shenandoah (2-1, 1-1 ODAC) opened the season with consecutive wins over Randolph (3-2) and Mount Aloysius (3-0) before suffering a 3-0 setback to Virginia Wesleyan on March 16. The Hornets are led in kills by the tandem of Kate Poppo and Jillian Warter, who have 42 and 39 kills, respectively. Defensively, Shenandoah is led by Peyton Clary, who has eight blocks (two solo) on the slate. Teammate Megan Hillyard has 34 digs, while Poppo has 33 and Warter has 32.
For more information on Guilford volleyball check out www.guilfordquakers.com.