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College Volleyball 2018: A Season of Firsts on the Very First Day

Katelyn Mueller led Abilene Christian to two wins on Friday, including the first nationally of the 2018 season

Photo by Kyle Spradley

Friday Aug. 24, 2018 is the first day of the college volleyball season and my first day covering the start of a college volleyball season. Today is a season of firsts! Here are some other firsts on this fun, finally-here Friday:

First kill of the season:

Montana State
MB McKayla Landreth at around 9:30 a.m. EDT in a match that went five before the Bobcats downed Canisius College. Landreth, a JUCO transfer, had only one more kill on 10 more swings the rest of the match and hit -.273.

First win of the season:

Abilene Christian
, which overcame a Game 1 loss to Georgetown to get by the Hoyas in four sets. Sophomore OH Katelyn Mueller led the way with 19 kills (hitting .421) and 10 digs.

“What an exciting way to start the 2018 season!” exclaimed ACU head coach Angela Mooney. “Overall, it was a really great team win for us. You can’t beat winning the first match of your season. I was happy with our blocking at the net and thought our overall defense did a good job as well. Our serve-receive steadied out and it was nice to see our middles more involved in sets 3-4.”

First five-set win of the season:

Montana State
over Canisius. Senior standout Natalie Passeck led Montana State with 21 kills and just one error while hitting .377.

First overscore five-set match of the year:

Creighton held off two Kentucky match points and scored on its sixth match point opportunity in a 22-20 Game 5 decision over the Wildcats. Senior OH Jaali Winters led the way with 25 kills.

First ranked team to win this season:

Purdue, No. 24 in’s “College Top 64,” swept No. 56 Wofford behind 17 kills from senior RS Sherridan Atkinson.

Said Boiler head coach Dave Shondell: “Wofford will win plenty of matches. Colleen Reillyis a high-level middle and the Terriers have plenty of options and size.”

Shondell said there were two keys to victory for his squad: 1) Redshirt freshman Hayley Bush performed like a seasoned veteran; and 2) Purdue’s defensive trio of Brooke Peters, Jena Otec and Marissa Hornung helped hold Wofford to .038 hitting for the match.

First Division I win ever:

Cal Baptist University, which went 29-1 as a Division II school in 2018, made its debut in Division I a success when it swept Louisiana-Monroe at the Starkvegas Classic hosted by Mississippi State. Tesa Oaks and Megan Sester combined for 24 kills in the workmanlike win.

Cal Baptist head coach Branden Higa was an assistant coach at Mississippi State before taking the Cal Baptist job seven years ago. He talked to our Sloane Green about playing Division I and tasting victory at that level.

“Going Division I was always a vision of the President,” Higa said. “We went NAIA to Division II and you have to spend five years at Division II before you can apply to become Division I. As soon as the five years hit, we applied. That process takes two years and we were accepted this year and here we are…”

“When we were going through the transition, we talked a lot about, ‘Someone’s going to get the first kill. Someone’s going to get the first dig, the first ace, block…someone on this team is going to be able to do that and how exciting will that be?’ 

“And it’s really funny because coming into the match this morning, I didn’t talk about it. I did not meet with the team beforehand to do a pre-game anything. For me, it was, they’re excited about Game 1. They didn’t need that added pressure of, who is going to be the first? We just wanted it to feel like another match. And it did. They operated with a lot of poise. They didn’t let the moment affect them.

“But, when they got off the court, I could tell that they all knew what they had just done. It was neat, we celebrated, and we got ice cream afterward.”

First team to improve to 2-0 on the season:

The aforementioned Abilene Christian, which fought back from a 2-1 deficit to knock off Winthrop, 15-13 in the fifth. Setter Kendall Bosse had 43 assists and 16 digs.  

Note that the first 2-0 might rather have been Loyola Marymount. After sweeping Rhode Island in the morning, the Lions took a 3-1 afternoon decision off of Hofstra behind 35 kills combined from Sara Kovac and Savannah Slattery.

First rankings upset of the year:

No. 13 Creighton rallied from down two sets to one to defeat No. 6 Kentucky in five, 22-20 in the fifth. The Bluejays outkilled the Wildcats 66 to 49.

First upset by an unranked team over a ranked one:

Alabama won three deuce sets in a row to stun No. 44 Western Kentucky. The Crimson Tide got a career-high 16 kills and 12 digs from RS Mahalia Swink.  South Florida transfer Doris Carter, making her ‘Bama debut, added 11 kills.

Freshmen Starting Openers For Division I Schools

Below are the true freshmen whom we have learned were or will be on the court as Day 1 starters for their Division I teams.

Coaches may email to update this list.

Megan Kelly RS
Teagan Ochaya RS
Hannah Yaconis MB

Lauren Evans DS

Arkansas Pine Bluff
Charis Adefolarin MB
Kaylyn Brown MB
Haley Gomez MB/OH
Charm Henderson RS

Heather Gneiting, MB

Cal Poly
Avalon Deneccochea S

Sarah Colla OH 
Anna Grace Holdford S
Grace Kane L
Hailey Wilson MB

Tyra Galloway MB
Nya Steele S

Maria Mallon OH

Ashley Chow DS
Julia Kurowski S

Nicole Liddle OH
Emma Moffet MB

Mallory Hernandez RS

Thayer Hall OH
Marlie Monserez S

Kent State
Kathryn Ellison OH
Melissa Kolurbasi RS

Alli Stumler DS

Lanie Wagner OH

Miami (Fla)
Chloe Brown OH
Emily Damon L
Maya Sullivan MB

Mississippi State
AJ Koele RS
Deja Robinson MB
Paige Shaw OH

Morehead State
Olivia Montelisciani DS
Allison Whitten DS

Nicklin Hames, S
Megan Miller DS
Callie Schwarzenbach MB

New Mexico State
Cat Kelly OH
Halle Razo L

North Dakota State
Kaylee Hanger, L
Kalli Hegerle S

Northern Colorado
Laura Katarzynski DS

Northern Kentucky
Natalie Hardig MB
Miranda Wucherer S/RS

Northwestern State
Skylar Besch S

Katelyn Johnson DS
Abby Neidinger OH

Brooke Nuneviller L

Penn State
Allyson Cathey OH
Jonni Parker RS

Grace Cleveland OH
Marissa Hornung DS

Anota Adekunle, MB
Carly Graham S

Sam Houston State University 
Breanne Chausse RS

Southern Utah
Emma Mangum RS
Miahna Waters

Holly Campbell MB

Logan Eggleston OH

Amara Anderson S
Lacey Jeffcoat L
Isabella Mitchell DS

Yvette Burcescu OH
Makala Heidelberg OH
Taylor Henigsman S

Olivia Lovenberg S

Raquel Lazaro Castellanos S

Sanaä Barnes RS
Clare Delaplane OH
Anna Morse DS/L

Ella May Powell S

West Virginia
Keaton Broughton DS
Kristina Jordan MB
Kristin Lux OH


Two closing notes:

1. The rankings referred to are’s “College Top 64,” which debuted last Friday and ranks all 64 teams predicted to receive tournament berths. Other rankings may differ.

2. This year you may find breaking news first on’s “College Talk” message board, which you can find at this link: https: College Talk Board


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    John Hughes

    August 26, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Abbie Hughes S started for FIU

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