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2022 Preview: Experience and youth pair to propel Owls program

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon College volleyball program embraces change as upperclassmen and newcomers mesh for the 2022 campaign. With a new head coach, a new mascot, and eight first-year players, the Owls are ready to blaze new trails of their own.

2021 Review:

The 2021 Kenyon squad finished with a 2-17 record and was unable to secure a North Coast Athletic Conference victory in eight contests. The Owls won their second match of the season by a score of three sets to two over Washington and Jefferson College as part of the BSN River City Classic at Marietta College. Kenyon’s second win was a 3-0 sweep against Olivet College in the NCAC / MIAA Crossover in Sandusky, Ohio.

Preseason Poll:

The Owls were voted to finish eighth in the NCAC Volleyball Preseason Poll released on Aug. 24. The Owls were three points behind Wooster (47 points, one first-place vote) in the poll, while Wittenberg University (54 points, one first-place vote) and Denison University (60 points, 6 first-place votes) rounded out the top four spots.

Coach’s Overview:

Emma Olson enters her first season at the helm of the Owls’ volleyball program in 2022. Olson is the 16th head coach in the 49-year history of the Kenyon program. Previously, Olson served as an assistant coach for three seasons at Washington and Lee University, an NCAA Division III institution in Lexington, Virginia. In that time, the Generals put together a combined 66-18 record, including a 31-3 performance in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) competition. She helped direct teams to a pair of conference championships while coaching two players who collected American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honors, four who earned all-region accolades, and seven who were named to all-conference teams.

Coach’s Quote:

“We have strong leadership coming from our returning group, and they have done a great job welcoming our first-years into the program,” said Olson. “We are excited to see how this group can grow and learn together this season!”

Key Returners:

Kenyon’s roster features a near 50/50 split between seniors and first-year players as eight of the 17 players are seniors, and eight more are first-years. One junior tips the scales in favor of the upperclassmen and rounds out a roster that combines different ends of the experience spectrum. One senior leading the way for the Owls is 2021 All-NCAC honoree Paige Milhon. A middle, Milhon was named an All-NCAC Honorable Mention after racking up a team-best 79 blocks. Her average of 1.25 blocks per set ranked first among all players in the conference and third among all players in NCAA Division III. Throughout the 2021 season, Milhon also generated 89 kills, 28 digs, and 13 service aces.

The 2022 Owls also bring back senior outside hitter Macy Reimbold, who led the 2021 squad with 185 kills, which was good for a team-high 2.94 kills per set. Reimbold also tied for second on the team with 17 aces, tied with returning senior Maya Sapsford and ranking one behind returning senior Ellie Luciani’s team-high 18. Sapsford and Luciani compiled 213 and 56 assists, respectively, while returning senior Jac Cousineau led the Owls with 282 dimes. Defensively, Luciani, Reimbold, and Cousineau paced Kenyon in digs with 258, 171, and 144, respectively. Other key returners include seniors Eras Yager (32 blocks, 26 digs, 25 kills), D.J. Taylor (six digs, five kills, five blocks), and Lizzie Sunding (six digs), and junior Lindsay Abramson (59 kills, 59 digs, 26 blocks).

Key Departures:

Kenyon’s 2021 roster featured 13 upperclassmen, including four seniors, amongst the team’s 14 players. The 2022 Owls will be without departed seniors Lauren Limbach and Elyse Davidson, two significant cogs on the 2021 team. Limbach finished second on the team with 123 kills while adding 91 digs and 12 blocks. Davidson’s 115 kills ranked third on the team, and she hit a team-high .265 while tying for second on the team with 32 blocks. The Owls also say goodbye to contributors Katie Howard (79 digs, 14 aces), Mary Hester (23 kills, eight blocks), and Tara Ford.

Schedule Overview:

The Owls set their schedule in motion with 13 non-conference bouts before their first NCAC contest and are scheduled for 17 total non-conference matches. Kenyon’s season starts at the BSN River City Classic as they face tournament-host Marietta College on Friday, Sep. 2, at 6:30 p.m. in Marietta, Ohio, before playing Washington and Jefferson College and Franciscan University at 10 a.m. and noon, respectively, on Sep. 3. The Owls’ first home match is slated for Wednesday, Sep. 7, at 7 p.m. in Tomsich Arena in Gambier, Ohio. Kenyon’s NCAC opener is also set to be played at home as the Owls welcome DePauw University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. The NCAC Tournament is scheduled to run from Nov. 4-5.

How to Follow:

Fans can follow women’s soccer throughout the season via the following links: 

Live coverage (stats and video) – https://athletics.kenyon.edu/live 

Twitter and Instagram – @KenyonSports

YouTube – @KenyonAthletics

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