As the Stevenson women's beach volleyball team begins its third season of competition on Friday, the Mustangs should be even more competitive in 2018. After posting a 6-10 mark in the inaugural season, Stevenson improved to 13-10 overall last season. Head coach Dave Trumbo is excited, like his players, to get going.
"We've been outside for about three weeks, and I think we're looking to play somebody else," said Trumbo, who also coaches Stevenson's women's volleyball team that hosted an NCAA regional in the fall.
Stevenson did lose five players out of its top five from a season ago, including its top tandem of Kristen Brooks and Samantha Perillo, but the Mustangs return a strong group including a sophomore class that got extensive experience last year, and also have five freshmen on the roster. Also returning after not competing last season is senior Annika Schwartz.
"Our sophomores got a lot of experience last year, so that can only help us," said Trumbo. "Two of our freshmen, Jessi Freeman and Lizi Cudal, came in as beach players and should be strong right away."
Senior Lauren Weaver and sophomore Katie Leftridge posted a 10-10 record at No. 2 last season, while sophomore Trang Christensen was 12-7 at No. 3 last season playing as a freshman. Sophomore Darian Hileman was also a part of the lineup last spring.
With the sport of women's beach volleyball expanding rapidly, the Mustangs are not forced to have as many Division I programs on the schedule, making for more competitive matches. In 2016, Stevenson played three matches against Division I varsity programs, this year, it will face one, Morehead State. The schedule now consists primarily of Division II and III programs, including four Division II Sunshine State Conference opponents the Mustangs will face on spring break.
"The schedule is a little bit more competitive for us this year. The Division II schools in particular are very strong indoor programs, but are new to beach volleyball," said Trumbo.
Stevenson will close out its season with its annual tournament on April 28-29, where it will host Carson-Newman as well as Towson and Morgan State.