Piedmont Sports: Fall Season Preview

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Junior forward Kaylee King is one of the key returners for the women’s soccer team. PHOTO // KARL L. MOORE

A brief look at the upcoming fall sports season at Piedmont University.

Volleyball

Piedmont University’s women’s volleyball team came up a little bit short last year, but are hoping to turn things around in 2021.

The team was literally shortchanged on height last season, with only five players up front at least 5’9”. The Lady Lions lost right side player Alina Roberts, who stood 6’0” tall and middle blocker Aubree Yancey, who stood at 5’9” and led the team in blocks last season. The team was also plagued with injuries that reduced the amount of tall players up front. It became increasingly more difficult to get timely blocks at the net, and the team had to rely on their excellent digging, which can only hold off a rally for so long.

The Lady Lions hope two freshmen will play pivotal roles this season. Outside hitter and right-side player Jessica Sconyers and middle blocker Jia Weathersby, who are both 5’11”, and will help fill the gap with their height.

“I am extremely excited about what this season has in store for us,” said Jamie McCormack, head coach of the Piedmont University volleyball team. “Our level of play is higher at this point in the year than it has been in previous years.  If we stay focused and keep working hard, I see no reason we can’t be one of the last teams standing.”

The volleyball team opens the season with a double-header on Sept. 3 against Guilford College and William Peace University in Danville, Virginia.

–Matthew Kodrowski

Men’s Soccer

The Piedmont University men’s soccer team may have come in third in the USA South preseason poll, but they are looking for more in their first full season since the Covid pandemic.

Cameron Earls has played for the Lions for four years now and is returning for a fifth year as team captain.  His 38 career goals have led him to finish first in the USA South in both 2018 and 2020.  Although Earls has amassed many personal records in his time, he is focused more on the team overall.  “I’m excited to continue building on what we started in the Spring, and I believe we’ve added some great freshmen to our team that I think will help us a lot.”

The Lions only have four senior returners on their roster.  They will be looking for help from the 22 underclassmen on the team.

The two key positions that will need to be filled are Cam Verona’s at goalie and Ian “Tree” Addison’s on defense.

The Lion’s offense is still in good shape with the return of Earls and senior forward Lule Tekilemariam.  They will also have senior midfielder Tyler Going returning from injury this season.

The Lions were shut out 3-0 in their season opener last night against Berry. They will square off against Ferrum College and Averett University in Danville, Virginia over the weekend.

–Noah Aaron

Women’s Soccer

After winning a conference championship last year, the Piedmont University women’s soccer team looks to defend its crown.

The team looks to turn mistakes made season into strengths. The team loses All-Conference midfielder Cassie Kirk and goal keeper Miranda McNalley, but Division I transfer and senior, Kaity Hemperly. Last season she made 13 appearances and nine starts, scoring a pair of goals and an assist. Another key player from last season is Kaylee King.

The junior forward made some key plays last year, most notably the winning goal to give Piedmont the USA Southwest Division Championship against Maryville. King has been a key player since her freshman year while starting in 16 games while getting time in 21 games.

–Walker Brown

Men’s Cross Country

Although the 2020 cross country season was cut short due to Covid-19, the Piedmont men still managed to finish 2nd at the conference cross meet. They also finished top 5 at the other three meets during the season, including a top 3 finish at the Berry Cross Country Invitational on Feb. 13.

Head Coach Jamie Jimison, who has coached the Lions since 2019 and has led them to eight top 10 finishes in 10 meets over the last 2 years, said he grateful to take over a strong team.  “I was fortune enough to take over a team with great upperclassmen leadership, of those upperclassmen they had goals. That mixes with some very passionate and talented young folks, who are now upperclassmen. That is a continued theme we hope to see this year as well.”

The Lions have many returners including seniors Connor Moranos and Darius Smith, along with junior Connor Creedon, who all finished in the top seven at last season’s conference championship meet. Although they will be missing a key runner in Alvin Jacobs, who finished second last season, coach Jimison hopes they can fill that gap.

“Someone like him (Alvin Jacobs) is a tough person to lose, but with each passing year people get faster. Although we lost him, we have people alongside those three all-conference returners who have the tools to be all conference runners. We have a significant level of depth, including six freshman, and 19 total people on the roster.”

The Lions kick off their upcoming season on Sept. 1 when they travel to Berry College for their first race of the season. “We are excited about it, we won’t be racing for time and it’s just the beginning,” he said. “Our goal is to come to the forefront around October.”

–Christophe Donsereaux

Women’s Cross Country

After strong finish in conference last year, the women’s cross country team is looking to capitalize on that success.

Head Coach Jamie Jimison, who has been the head coach for three years for the men’s and women’s cross country and track & field teams, has high hopes for 2021.

“I am excited about our women’s team this season,” Jimison said. “This group returns a lot of experience with one senior and four juniors leading the way. This group worked hard this summer and are ready to do some special things. I think they have the tools to contend for a Conference Championship.”

The women’s team came in second place at the Conference Championship meet last season, with Addie Bolton, Josey George and Val Angel placing in the top 10. Bolton became the women’s program’s new record holder with a time of 19:24.6. George had a time of 20:15.5, and Angel came in first place making her the USA Southwest Division Champion. Bolton came in 3rd place, and George came in 7th place.

The Lady Lions will kick off their season on Sept. 1 at Berry College.

–Leo Galarza

Men’s Golf

After a successful season last year, finishing 4th in the USA South tournament, the Lady Lions golf team looks to improve with returning talent and new freshmen.

Senior Mattie Morris said she is ready for the upcoming season and says she thinks this will be a good year for their team. “I’m really looking forward to this upcoming season and I think this is going to be a strong team for us heading into this year.”

The Lady Lions return seniors Morris and Carson Weiner. They also have a junior and a few sophomores returning as well. They only lost one senior from last season, Sarah Hustey, who they have replaced with three freshmen. Morris and Weiner, as well as junior Morgan Calhoun led last season with 18 rounds. Hustey, Weiner and Calhoun were also named All-American.

Sophomore Savanna Barefoot looks to have another good season after notching a career low score of 80 at the Piedmont Spring Invitational and earning all-tournament team at The Orchard golf course in Clarksville.

The Lady Lions will start their season at the Transylvania Invitational on Sept. 4-5 in Lexington, Kentucky.

–James Whitmer

Women’s Golf

After their conference victory last season, the Piedmont University men’s golf team is ready to defend their championship title.

“With five guys back from last year we have a lot of experience and with the large incoming class we have this year, they’re all hungry to get going,” Head Coach JP Kircher said. “Early in the fall they have all taken leadership positions and helped create an awesome culture with the new guys.”

After the incredible season the Lions had breaking records and winning championships, they will be looking to keep the same intensity this season. A key player the team will be looking up to is Fred Roberts, who ranked as the number seven golfer in all of NCAA Division lll following the 2020 fall season. He also was recognized as All South Region and All American.

Josh Hebrink will also be a player to watch out for this season. Hebrink led Piedmont with a t-47 finish at the NCAA Dlll national championship. He also was honored and rewarded with All-South Region as well as All-USA South Second Team.

The Lions journey this season will begin on Sept. 13 at the Rhodes Fall Intercollegiate Classic in Tunica, Mississippi.

–Hailey Johnson