New year, new outlook for Coppin State women’s volleyball

It was a tough opening weekend for the Coppin State women’s volleyball team as the Eagles look to improve on their 2017 record under second-year coach Tim Walsh.  Taking on UNC Ashville, the freshman-laden women’s volleyball team suffered from first game jitters, falling in three straight sets to the host Bulldogs Friday night. The match was the season opener for both squads.

The Eagles were hoping to right the ship on Saturday against Appalachian State and The Citadel but came up short in the win column against both teams. After going down in three sets to UNC Asheville, Copping State fell to Appalachian State in consecutive matches as well. Despite these two defeats, the Eagles received sparkling play from Lauryn Harrell, who totaled 12 kills and three blocks in the two games.

In their third game of the young season, the Eagles played it tight against The Citadel, extending the Bulldogs in three matches: 23-25, 20-25 and 19-25. Miajavon Morgan proved to be the star for Coppin State against The Citadel, coming up with 13 kills. Harrell added five more kills against the Bulldogs to add to her totals for the young season.

Harrell finished the tournament with 17 kills, four blocks and four digs to earn a spot to the UNC Asheville Invitational All-Tournament Team.

In examining the outlook for Coppin State for the 2018 season, the Eagles are hoping to do nothing but go higher than where they were a year ago. Walsh is ushering in a new era for the Eagles volleyball program as he returns just four student-athletes with a plethora of newcomers for the 2018-2019 season.

Despite less than a handful of players coming back from last season’s 4-26 club, three of them were starters with Asia Stennis, Christa Johnson, and Marlena Guice coming back to campus.

Stennis had a breakout sophomore season where she led the team with 262 kills and three double-doubles. Arguably the best all-around player on the Eagles a year ago, Stennis also finished with 200 digs and was one of the team-leaders in blocks and service aces.

“Asia is a six-rotation player and we expect her to lead this young, talented team by example this season,” said Walsh.

Guice enters her senior season at Coppin and also brings a solid all-around game to the table while Johnson was a mainstay up front for the Eagles and led Coppin with 45 blocks.

“Marlena is the lone senior and has one of the strongest serves on the team, and Johnson, who is also confident playing on the right side, had a great spring in the weight room which makes her a contender for a starting position in the fall,” he said.

Also returning this season is sophomore Elanna Nellis, who can play in the middle or on the right side, and is one of the stronger blockers on the team.

Among the 11 newcomers to this year’s roster are Miajavon Coleman, a middle/outside hitter from San Antonio, Texas; Harrell, another middle/outside hitter from Gilbert, Ariz., and Sydney Hicks, an outside hitter from Ashburn, Va. The trio of freshman are expected to make an immediate impact offensively this season and will add some much needed athleticism to the lineup.

Two freshman setters will also battle for time quarterbacking the offense in Brianna Lang and Aislynn Weaver. Out of Atlanta, Lang led her school to back-to-back state playoff appearances with a semifinals appearance as a senior. Weaver was one of the top setters in Utah and also took her team to the state semifinals in her final season.

Walsh also added an international flavor to this year’s team with Chelsi Kolibar and Rebekka Hauri expected to play major roles in the back row.

Kolibar was a two-time All-Star at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute in Alberta, Canada and led her team to a postseason and zone championship as a senior. Kolibar has also seen significant time from the setter position in her career.

A native of Berne, Switzerland, Hauri attended Gymnasium Hofwil and helped her U17 squad to a first place finish at the Swiss Championships in 2014. Two years later, Hauri took her U19 team to a third-place finish.

Walsh expects immediate impact from Coleman, a First Team All-District selection; Harrell, who took home Regional Player of the Year accolades, and Hicks, a two-time All-Conference recipient up front with Kolibar and Hauri in the back row.

Also expected to compete for time are fellow newcomers Khala Cameron (Austintown, Ohio), Jordan Celestine (Stockbridge, Ga.), DeMia Goddard (Fort Washington, Md.) and Macy Havill (Gainesville, Va.).

Coppin State will host MEAC South members North Carolina Central, South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T on Sept. 21-22 at the Charm City Classic presented by THB Bagel & Deli.

Walsh and the Eagles face open MEAC North Division competition at Norfolk State on Sept. 28. Coppin’s MEAC home opener is set for Oct. 4 where it will take on crosstown rival Morgan State in its first of seven-straight home matches.

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