This past offseason contained some controversy for Wake Forest’s women’s volleyball team, as former Head Coach Bill Ferguson resigned due to his alleged involvement in the “Varsity Blues” scandal. In his stead, Interim Head Coach Randi Smart has led the team to a scorching 7-1 start, nearly matching the 10 total wins the team accumulated last year.
Wake Forest 7-1 (0-0) played a struggling Furman 0-8 (0-0) team this past Saturday, delivering a dominant three set victory by a score of 25-20, 25-17, 25-18. Senior middle blocker Caitlyn Della led the charge for the Demon Deacons, recording 13 kills and five blocks in a match that seemed one-sided from the start.
Freshman outside hitter Peyton Suess contributed her second double double of the season with 10 kills and 14 digs, and junior setter Madeline Holt posted 36 assists. Junior outside hitter Nicole Mack and senior outside hitter Gabby Howard led Furman with seven kills apiece.
Wake Forest then faced its first real challenge of the season against Elon, 4-5 (0-0), which had won its previous two matches. Elon stormed out of the game to take the first two games by a combined score of 50-35. The Phoenixes combined for 32 kills and a 42% hitting rate in the first two games compared to a miniscule four errors.
The Deacons roared back in the third and fourth sets behind Suess’s and junior outside hitter Caroline Kuhn’s strong play at the net, as they helped Wake Forest lead to a 32% hitting rate across the two sets. More importantly, Wake Forest forced Elon to commit 13 errors.
The Phoenixes rallied in the fifth set to win a tight one 15-13. Sophomore outside hitter Leah Daniel had a huge game for Elon, pacing the team with 20 kills. For the Deacons, Suess and Kuhn combined for 35 kills, and Holt added a season-best 45 assists.
With only one loss, Wake Forest comes in at second place in the ACC early in the season. The ACC figures to be tough again this season, but it appears that the Deacons will not reprise their underwhelming performance of last year, when they finished 13th in the conference with an 8-19 (5-13) record.
The Deacons will begin ACC play on Sept. 27 against Miami. Wake Forest will not be able to play Pittsburgh, the first place team in the ACC with 10 wins, until Nov. 1.
In the meantime, Wake Forest travels to Fairfax, Va. this weekend to play in the George Mason Tournament. There, they will face off against George Mason, William & Mary and Seton Hall. Wake Forest’s first game of the tournament will be Friday night against George Mason at 7 p.m.