If the Chesapeake College volleyball season could be judged solely on paper, so much would look so promising.
The Skipjacks return five standout sophomores and they’re joined by a batch of blossoming freshmen.
It could all add up to a breakthrough season for Chesapeake if the team plays up to its potential.
A .500 record might just feel like a championship year to the players and fifth-year coach Emily George considering the Skipjacks' best season since 2015 was 5-12. There are also two winless seasons during that stretch.
“We have the talent,” George said. “We have a smaller pool to pull from than what bigger colleges have, but I feel we have more heart than any of them have. I would love a winning season and I feel we deserve it. We have put in a lot of hard work.”
The sophomores – defensive specialist Olivia Santos, outside hitter Erica Barrow, opposite hitter Taylor Lindsay, middle hitters Emma Stoltzfus (18 digs and 4 kills in 2 games) and Jayonia Jackson -- could be the key to pushing the team in the right direction.
They bring plenty of leadership, and energy and help form excellent chemistry for the Skipjacks.
“They have the friendships that they bring to the team,” George said. “They have been together and hanging out all offseason. That definitely helps us bond.”
Barrow has been especially impressed with the development of the 5-foot-5 Lindsay, a North Dorchester graduate who may be the most improved player on the team.
“Last year was her first year playing,” Barrow explained. “She has grown a lot as a player. Her serving and hitting have improved.”
The 5-foot-6 Barrow, an Easton graduate, is a player George relies on heavily because of her versatility. She ranked among the team leaders last year in blocks, digs, kills, aces and assists.
Barrow leads the team in kills this year.
“She is an all-around player,” George said. “I can put her in any position and she would make it work. She adapts very well and really knows the game. She even played setter in one game for us last year.”
Three freshmen came in and earned starting jobs: outside hitter Oliva Lane (Colonel Richardson High), setter Avery Carter (Easton) and middle hitter Bianca Potts (Kent County).
“Olivia and Bianca came in strong,” George said of preseason workouts. “They were ready to play. I like Bianca’s dedication. She drives over an hour to come to practice.”
Freshmen Alexis Bates (Colonel Richardson) completes the roster.
Chesapeake started the season by dropping three-set consecutive matches to Potomac State College of West Virginia on the road and Harford Community College at home.
The Skipjacks hope to rebound in a home tri-match against Cecil College and Anne Arundel Community College.
“Even in the first two weeks we are still learning to work with each other,” Lane said. “Every day we are improving. You can see in the first two games we had.”
If the improvement continues, Chesapeake should eventually see its share of wins.