WASHINGTON – For six straight seasons the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) women's volleyball championship has resided with Gallaudet University. So it was not much of a stretch when the NEAC preseason coaches' poll was announced, last week, that Gallaudet was picked No. 1.
"It is a honor that the conference coaches still recognize Gallaudet University as a good team and program. It is nice that they respect our program and reputation," said Gallaudet women's volleyball head coach Lynn Ray Boren. "It feels good [to be selected first] but we are a very young team."
Gallaudet will be tested by a strong non-conference schedule and will have to wait four weeks before making its home debut in the Field House. Coach Boren hopes by then the team has gelled and ready for the main part of the schedule and conference play. The Bison will aim to return to the conference playoffs but they are not focused on a seventh straight conference crown just yet.
"It is not our goal right now," said Boren of winning a seventh NEAC title. "Our goal right now is to finish in the Top 5 of the conference standings. Our second goal is to play in the conference tournament. If we meet those two goals then we will know if we have a chance to win a seventh title or not."
Here is a breakdown of the 2016 Gallaudet women's volleyball team.
NEAC Record: 10-2
Highlight: NEAC Champions, NCAA tournament for sixth straight year
Awards: Three All-NEAC selections, one AVCA All-Region Honorable Mention
Darriyan Thomas (Vallejo, Calif.), Sr., Outside Hitter
Thomas was named to the 2015 All-NEAC first team last season as she tallied 466 kills, 388 digs and 56 service aces. This summer she was a member of Team USA and helped them win gold at the World Deaf Championships and PanAm Deaf Volleyball Regional Qualifying Tournament. Coach Boren says he has seen improvements in her maturity and capabilities and has high expectations for Thomas this season.
Tessa Lewis (Frederick, Md.), So., Outside Hitter/Opposite
Lewis returns for her second season with the Bison and will start at opposite hitter. She will focus on front row hitting and is a good fit for GU as she has taken on more responsibilities and expectations.
Raelyn Fuechtmann (South St. Paul, Minn.), So., Libero
Fuechtmann saw action in all 36 matches last season with four starts and will begin the season as the starting libero for the Bison. She showed a lot of improvement during preseason camp and understands how to be a good passer for Gallaudet and play defense.
TraciAnn Hoglind, Setter
Hoglind was named a 2015 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Region honorable mention last season. The three-time all-conference setter finished her career with 3,459 assists, 686 digs and 216 service aces.
Danielle Morris, Middle Hitter/Opposite
Morris was a 2015 All-NEAC second team selection as she tallied 274 kills, 318 digs, 52 service aces and 50 blocks. In two seasons, she accumulated 534 kills, 619 digs, 99 blocks and 95 service aces.
Adele Daniels (Frederick, Md.), Fr., Middle Hitter
Daniels will try and step-in to the void left by Morris. The 5-foot-10 hitter played this summer on the USA National Deaf Women's Volleyball Team, where she helped Team USA win gold in the World Deaf Championships and PanAm Games. She has improved a lot from her time at Maryland School for the Deaf to becoming a Bison. She can also play on the back row.
Camryn Skari (Federal Way, Wash.), Fr., Outside Hitter
The Washington state native brings much needed size to the Bison. The 5-foot-10 hitter is a mature player that understands the game. She played a high-level of volleyball in high school and club playing year round. Skari is an all-around player.
"Our goal is to go back to work and grow as a young group. We have discussed the importance of everyone's responsibilities to help our team and program build. We need to block out struggles and focus on the positives." Lynn Ray Boren, Gallaudet University women's volleyball head coach
- Season Opener: Battlefield Classic at Gettysburg, Pa. (Sept. 2)
- Home Opener: vs. Rutgers-Newark (Sept. 23)
- Conference Opener: at SUNY Cobleskill (Sept. 17-18)
- Worthington Classic: Eight-team tournament (Sept. 23-24)
- Homecoming/Senior Day: vs. Eastern Mennonite (Oct. 28)
- NEAC Tournament: Nov. 1, 5-6
BISON HOME MATCHES
Sept. 23-24 – Worthington Classic
Oct. 5 vs. Goucher, 7 p.m. (AVCA Team Academic Award/Dig Pink)
Oct. 15 vs. Cazenovia, 4 p.m. & vs. Keuka, 6 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Wells, 11 a.m.
Oct. 25 vs. Shenandoah, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 vs. Eastern Mennonite, 7 p.m. (Homecoming/Senior Day)