Sports

Women’s Volleyball Team Stung by Rival in First Round

Abbi Leeper jumping to hit a volleyball
Abbi Leeper spiking a ball. Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/wvball/2020-21/releases/20210428xoqctd

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     The University of Lynchburg Women’s Volleyball Team enjoyed a successful season, finishing third in a competitive conference, but the team lost to archrival Randolph-Macon in the ODAC quarterfinals.

     Interim Head Coach Hannah Givens said “Being able to host the first round of the ODAC tournament was such a reward,” she began. “We worked hard this season and being able to host a conference tournament game proved it. This is the first time we hosted an ODAC first round match since 2016, so we are really proud of this accomplishment.” 

     Alexis Horner, a freshman middle blocker, said, “The loss to Randolph Macon does sting. However, I see every game as an opportunity to learn and implement what we practice every week. The losses are opportunities for the players on the team to figure out what they need to improve on. After the loss to Randolph-Macon, I feel more motivated than ever to work hard over summer break, so I can be ready to compete in the fall.”

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Staying on Track

Track & field raises both ODAC championship trophies!
The women’s track and field team celebrating a win. Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/track/2020-21/releases/202105030qsdg1

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On May 2, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Women’s Track and Field Team won the ODAC championship. 

     Director of Cross-Country Track and Field Jim Sprecher highlighted the importance of the contributions that two seniors in particular made, stating, “Both Stephanie Burnett and Jackie Wilson made big contributions to our ODAC title, as both won two titles each. More importantly, both were involved in the most exciting victories of the championship. Burnett won the 10,000 meter and 5,000 meter runs in heroic fashion. Wilson anchored the 4×400-meter relay with a come from behind victory in the last event of the meet.” 

     Wilson stated, “Seeing the team storm the track to celebrate my accomplishment and the team’s accomplishment is a memory that I will never forget.” 

     Burnett said, “This is truly an exciting feeling. The most exciting part is winning as a team. Also, I am ecstatic that the men and women both won the ODAC. It is always an amazing feeling to win at home in front of your parents and fans. The atmosphere was electric, and I thought that having the championship at Lynchburg made winning the championship ten times more exciting.” 

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Men’s Tennis Team Left It on the Court in ODAC Quarterfinal

Daniel Christian follows through on a tennis shot
Daniel Christian playing tennis. Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/mten/2020-21/releases/20210502p4u2wp

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On May 2, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Tennis Team was defeated by the Roanoke Maroons in the ODAC quarterfinal. 

     Despite the loss in the quarterfinal, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Tennis Team enjoyed a successful season. Colton Mullins, a captain, talked about the highlights of this season, stating, “Our best win was against Hampden Sydney because this is a rivalry that we have not won in many years.” 

     Daniel Christian, a senior and captain, wanted to give credit to his coaches and teammates for the successful season. He said, “All credit goes to my teammates, Coach Johnson, and Coach Randall. Our coaches practice with us and get us to where we need to be. Also, my teammates have all done their part to ensure we not only made the first round of the ODAC tournament, but also were able to host it.” 

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University of Lynchburg Women’s Tennis Looks to Return the Favor Against Generals

Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     The University of Lynchburg Women’s Tennis Team has earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming ODAC conference tournament. 

     Previously, University of Lynchburg lost to the nationally ranked Washington and Lee (W&L) Generals, but the Hornets are looking forward to returning the favor against the Generals in the ODAC tournament. 

     Director of Tennis Christopher Johnson is proud of where his team is at. “We talk a lot about grit and perseverance,” he said. “I am proud because everyone on the team has demonstrated these attributes in the last few games of the regular season. We are looking forward to hosting our quarterfinal matches.” 

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Turning a Disappointing Start Into a Home Run Season

Brandon Pond throwing a pitch. Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/landing/index

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     At a 25-11 overall record and a 15-4 record in ODAC play, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Baseball Team is turning a 2-6 start into a home run season that could feature an ODAC title. 

     Brandon Pond, a junior pitcher and infielder, illustrated that the 2-6 record was indicative of the team’s rustiness. Pond said, “After starting off with a 2-6 record, we realized we had some work to do. We had our previous season canceled due to the coronavirus, so we were rusty. We always knew we had the talent and potential to be great. We started working more efficiently and executing in practice to make things easier in the games.” 

     Pond continued, “My teammates, coaches, and I did our part to ensure we can recover from a disappointing start and be in the position we are in now. We are now in position to win an ODAC championship, a dream that will be truly special for us if it comes to fruition.” 

     Head Coach Lucas Jones is grateful that the disappointing start allowed him to address his team’s weaknesses. “Looking back, the 2-6 start was actually a blessing,” he stated. “It created some questions that we needed to answer and answer quickly. Our mindset was off, so that slow start allowed us to take a step back and process what adjustments needed to be made.  We were able to put some players in different positions and take a different offensive approach that has vastly improved over the season. Our pitching staff has tremendous depth. During this season, the opportunities to get on the mound and continue to log game time were important. We knew they would succeed, but it was just going to take some repetition and competition.”

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Fielding a Perennial Championship Team

The team celebrating the championship victory. Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/landing/index

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On Apr. 18, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Women’s Field Hockey Team won its third ODAC championship in a row and won its 21st ODAC championship overall. 

     Head Coach Enza Steele expressed how happy she is that her players were rewarded for persevering through adversity, stating, “I think we were in a year that contained a lot of adversity. Hopes were shattered, plans were destroyed, and dreams were crushed. Then, there was a little bit of light when the ODAC conference allowed fall sports to be played in the spring. I was happy that we played some games. We had a total of 10 games while in a usual season we would have had 19. We had to be cautious during practice every day in order to play. I think our dedication to our favorite sport paid off. It would have been easy for so many girls to have an attitude of this season not being worth it. However, these girls showed their passion for their favorite sport.” 

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University of Lynchburg Women’s Softball Seeking Hard Earned Victories

 Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/sball/coaches/dsimmons?view=bio
Head Coach Dawn Simmons. Simmons has led the University of Lynchburg Women’s Softball program for 23 years and has guided them to numerous NCAA tournament appearances.

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     The University of Lynchburg Women’s Softball Team is currently enjoying a great season, but the team is looking to obtain key victories against Roanoke, Guilford, and Emory and Henry to increase the team’s chances of hosting the ODAC championship. 

     Head Coach Dawn Simmons expressed the immense amount of pride she has for all her players, stating, “I am immensely proud because I am impressed with how well this young team is playing. We have one graduate student who returned from last year, a couple of seniors, a couple of juniors, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. I am extremely proud about how they are learning to play together. Everyone has grown throughout the season.” 

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Women’s Soccer Ends Season with Building Blocks for Next Year

University of Lynchburg Women’s Soccer Head Coach Todd Olsen has just concluded his 26th season coaching the Hornets. He coached the University of Lynchburg Women’s Soccer Team to win the 2014 NCAA National Championship. Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/wsoc/coaches/tolsen?view=bio.

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

    The University of Lynchburg Women’s Soccer Team lost to Virginia Wesleyan University in the quarterfinal round of the ODAC tournament on April 6. 

     Despite ending the season on a three-game losing streak, Head Coach Todd Olsen and Alyssa Damato, a forward, expressed optimism for next season. 

     Coach Olsen believes his team will win an ODAC championship soon, stating, “I think we are really close to winning another ODAC championship. We talk a lot with our team about how soccer is a game of inches. Defensively, these inches include the inches required to make a necessary late game stop. Offensively, these inches include the inches required to ensure the ball lands in the back of the net. I do not think we have a monumental mountain to climb. I think we are ready to compete for national championships for a long time.”  

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Learning from Losses makes Champions

Men’s Soccer scoreboard. Image from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/landing/index

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On April 11, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Soccer Team claimed the ODAC championship by beating Guilford 5-1. 

     Throughout the tournament, Kyle Gallagher, a senior goalkeeper, played at a high level. Gallagher acknowledged the challenges he would face as a goalkeeper entering the matchup against top seeded Hampden-Sydney, stating, “There is a good amount of pressure placed on goalkeepers throughout the ODAC. Depending how well or poorly everyone on my team is playing, I may have to touch the ball anywhere from 0-20 times per game.” 

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Setting up Kill Shots Against Randolph-Macon Is Not a Given

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     The University of Lynchburg Women’s Volleyball Team has been enjoying a winning season thus far in the spring semester of 2021, but these hornets are looking to avenge previous losses to Randolph Macon. 

     Natalie Lavelle, a senior middle blocker, said, “While we consider all ODAC games during the regular season to be important, I consider Randolph-Macon to be the most significant game going into the ODAC tournament. They have always been a tough competitor. In the four years I have been in this program, we have never beaten Randolph-Macon. Beating this team would send a powerful statement throughout the ODAC. We will be letting people know that we are here to win.” 

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University of Lynchburg Women’s Field Hockey Fields Victory During Pandemic

Photo of University of Lynchburg Women’s Field Hockey Coach Enza Steele. Head Coach Steele is a hall of fame coach who has won over 600 games during her four-decade tenure. Her brilliant coaching has led to her players stealing victories from prestigious programs like Washington and Lee in the 2021 season. Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/fh/coaches/esteele?view=bio.

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     The University of Lynchburg Women’s Field Hockey Team has been enjoying an undefeated season. 

     Laurel Nicks, the senior goalkeeper of the team, is enthusiastic about their undefeated season. She said, “We are trying our best to enjoy this odd season and make the most of it. We have been developing our skills. I believe we have a good chance of winning the ODAC.”

     Head Coach Enza Steele believes that her team is playing at a championship caliber level. She said, “The team has been working hard and adjusting well to all the restrictions we have had. This has led the players and coaches to prepare for competition in a safe environment. Practices have been very upbeat and challenging for everyone. We are playing well just like ODAC Champions need to. Our experienced returners and talented first year class have set high standards for themselves.”

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University of Lynchburg Women’s Tennis Serves Just Desserts for Rivals

Women's tennis player hitting backhand
Final Score for MB v. UL. Image From https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/wten/2020-21/releases/20210317peh9hu

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On Mar. 17 and Mar. 20, the University of Lynchburg Women’s Tennis Team served up defeat for Mary Baldwin and archrival Roanoke, respectively. 

     Ellen Druebbisch, a senior and co-captain, said, “I think everyone is working hard to compete at the highest level. After a year devoid of competition, I am proud that we have done the necessary things to have a successful start to the season. If we keep working hard, we will have a successful season. It would be an amazing feeling if we can win an ODAC championship, as this would highlight every seniors’ athletic career. I want my teammates to leave it all out there on the court.” 

     Caroline Guill, a senior and co-captain, expressed the importance of the Roanoke win. She stated, “Roanoke is a team that was ranked below us in the preseason, so it was important for us to continue to prove why we were ranked as one of the best teams in the ODAC.” 

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University of Lynchburg Men’s Lacrosse

Riley Mitchell playing lacrossea gainst a CNU defender
The final score between CNU and UL. Image From https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/mlax/2020-21/releases/20210320pn246t

Jared Hargis ~ Guest Writer

     After coming into the season ranked #12 by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA), the University of Lynchburg’s men’s lacrosse team has been off to a great start this 2020-21 season. 

     The Lynchburg’s Men’s Lacrosse team have worked their way up the rankings after going on a five-game winning streak, earning themselves a #2 ranking. Their five-game winning streak was snapped in Saturday’s 10-9 overtime loss to #11 ranked Christopher-Newport. 

     In addition to the loss, Lynchburg’s ranking has dropped after Saturday’s overtime loss. Despite the loss, the Hornets have started the season red hot, winning the last five of their six games. With the pandemic continuing to impact the season, it does not seem to affect or faze the men’s lacrosse team with their early season success. 

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Hornets Seize ODAC Crown from Roanoke

Katie Crump. Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/wbkb/coaches/kcrump?view=bio.

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On Mar. 11, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Women’s Basketball Team vanquished ODAC rival, Roanoke College, to seize the ODAC Championship. 

     Interim Head Coach Catherine Crump was ecstatic about the win, and she used the win as a teaching tool to teach her players to always work hard on the job. 

Crump said, “When I transitioned to the interim head coach position, my own expectations were the same as any position I have held.  First, I wanted to work hard to represent the program at the highest level. Also, I wanted to do my best to provide the best experience for the team, especially during these challenging times when we were not sure what the season would look like due to the pandemic.  The success this team has experienced has been three or four years in the making.  This team has always been talented, but without the personal growth and maturation on and off the court, we would not be in this position.  I also believe there was a sense of urgency this season due to the pandemic.  Throughout the season, we talked about how we are only guaranteed today whether it be practice or a game.” 

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Suggs’ Buzzer Beater Sends Resilient Hornets to Championship Game

Tharon Suggs. Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/mbkb/2019-20/bios/suggs_tharon_400r.

William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist

     On Mar. 11, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Basketball Team fell to archrival Randolph-Macon College. Even though the Men’s Basketball Team did not win the ODAC championship, they achieved a lot in the ODAC tournament. 

     Players expressed how heartbreaking the loss in the ODAC championship was, but they also conveyed how proud they are of their team. 

     Thomas Thacker, a senior forward, said, “This loss definitely hurts because we were confident in ourselves and what we thought the end results would be. In a way, we were happy with how we fought through in all our games and gave it our all until the end. I believe the players can build off of having the experience of actually playing in a championship game because this experience does not happen that often.” 

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