HICKORY, N.C. – The Catawba Valley Community College volleyball program starts its 2017 season where it finished the 2016 campaign — ranked fourth in the nation.
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) released its 2017 preseason rankings, which feature the Red Hawks in the No. 4 spot in the poll — the highest-ever preseason ranking in program history.
"We're really honored to be selected as fourth," said CVCC head volleyball coach Shannon Hudson. "We've got a lot of work to put in. This is a young group this year and a totally different group than we finished with last year when we finished fourth in the nation. I'm excited to get things started and see how they can come together for this season."
Only three community colleges – Owens (Ohio), Lincoln Land (Ill.) and defending national champion Parkland (Ill.) – are ranked higher than CVCC in the Division II poll, which is voted upon by the NJCAA's poll committee.
The Red Hawks return five players — sophomores Hailey Tatu, Leslie Leonard, Sabrina Pinard, Mallory Bailey and Ramsey Fulmer — from their 2016 team, which set a school record for wins (41) and recorded its highest-ever national finish.
The CVCC volleyball team kicks off its 2017 season with a pair of preseason scrimmages on Thursday, Aug. 17 at the Tarlton Complex against Bob Jones University (3:30 p.m.) and Montreat College (6:30 p.m.).
Hudson is using the scrimmages to finalize her starting lineup heading into the regular-season home opener on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. against USC-Lancaster.
"We've got a couple of girls competing for positions," Hudson said. "We're going to be looking at stats really hard to see kind of where they fall, kind of look at how they are coming together as a team and how defensively and offensively they are working together on the court. It's going to be good to finally get them out there, put it all together and have some competition. They are ready to play. They are done with practice. They are ready to see it come together. We are too as coaches to see the little things that we've been adding and different pieces to see it on the court against some teams tomorrow. It'll be nice to see how it all comes together."