GW Volleyball Season Outlook
Seven Newcomers Join Seven Returners in Head Coach Amanda Ault's Third Season
Aug 30, 2013
2013 Season Outlook
The 2013 George Washington volleyball team has a healthy dose of both old and new. Fourteen student-athletes make up the roster with an even split of seven returnees and seven newcomers as the Colonials take the floor under third-year head coach Amanda Ault.
"Preseason has gone extremely well," said head coach Amanda Ault. "These girls have put in a great three weeks and we are ready to see where we stand. It gets to a certain point in preseason, and we have gotten to this point, where we are just ready to see another team on the other side of the net and just get after it."
After missing the Atlantic 10 Championship last season, the entire roster has its eyes set on returning to the tournament which, for the first time in 22 years, will be held on the Colonials' home floor at the Charles E. Smith Center.
"It has been so long since we have had the opportunity to host the Atlantic 10 Championship," said Ault. "It is a very big deal. The team is ready to roll this weekend, but we also understand that this weekend starts the whole process of our achieving our ultimate goal. We were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll, and it inspires us because we have something to prove and we are ready to begin this journey."
Sophomore transfer Jordan Timmer will open the season as the starting setter. She appeared in 16 matches last season for Central Michigan but has been at GW and practicing with the team since last spring.
"Jordan has had the benefit of setting for a college team already, so we are comfortable with her experience level," said Coach Ault. "She does a great job of running the floor and helping her teammates and attackers out and will open the season as the starter."
Freshman Emily Clemens, an Under Armour All-American as a senior at Lindenhurst High School in New York, is a versatile setter who can also play multiple positions on the floor.
"Emily continues to improve every day," explained Coach Ault. "There are things that she is just now learning, but she is such a skilled athlete that she is catching on very quickly. She also has the ability to play multiple positions in the lineup and we are going to use that to our advantage."
Junior Kelsey Newman anchors the stable of outside hitters for the Colonials in 2013. She finished second on the team with 290 kills as a junior and will once again be a prominent fixture in GW's attack.
"Kelsey will carry some of the load for us this year. She has a powerful arm and will be a big part of our offense," said Coach Ault.
Senior Rachael Goss battled injuries throughout her junior season but has had a strong camp and will be a factor in the attack from the opening weekend. "Rachael has come into this season healthy and strong," said Coach Ault. "She has done a great job this offseason and really has put herself in a position to have a great senior season."
Maggie Skjelbred returns for her sophomore season after a busy summer playing for the Norwegian National Team at the World University Games.
"Maggie is going to play right side for us this season and she had a great summer playing for her native Norway," said Coach Ault. "That opportunity has put her into a great position to be a force for us this season. She has had a great camp and has added to her game. She is a more confident player because of that experience."
Freshman Loren Williams will also log time at outside hitter after a successful scholastic career at Hebron High School in Hebron, Texas.
Senior Jamie Armstrong headlines the middle blockers in 2013 after leading the Colonials with 80 blocks as a junior. She also ranked third on the team with 173 kills and will be a key piece of GW's front line once again.
"Jamie and our other seniors, Rachael Goss and Jessica Burr, have done a great job of having the whole team on the same page," said Coach Ault. "They understand the importance of working together and supporting each other. They have done an outstanding job of setting the tone for this team and paving the way for the underclassman".
Junior Landon Garvik battled thorough injuries last season to appear in 15 matches down the stretch for the Colonials and is an important weapon when in the lineup.
"Landon is the absolute team player," boasted Coach Ault. "She does everything with the thought of `team first' in mind. She plays a very important role for us no matter where she is on the floor."
Junior transfer Gabrial Rushton, along with freshman Chidima Osuchukwu, will also be key fixtures on the Colonials' front line. Rushton totaled 131 kills and 143 blocks at Hutchinson Community College last season while Osuchukwu is a highly-touted recruit from Virginia Beach, Va.
Sophomore Maddy Doyle will step into the libero position in 2013 after a successful freshman campaign that saw her play in 26 matches in her rookie season.
"Maddy is stepping into a big position for us," explained Coach Ault. "She has big shoes to fill and she knows that. She is not the kind of player to shy away from that and she embraces the opportunity. She has great vision, is a great voice on the floor and brings everybody together."
Senior Jessica Burr returns from being sidelined for all of 2012 to add important depth to the back line.
"Jessica's loyalty to this team is unparalleled," said Coach Ault. "She had a rough situation with missing last season to an injury but is back now and you can tell she is excited. She has not missed a beat; she slid right in to practice and has been right on top of everything. She is almost like another coach out there for us."
"There is no doubt that there is a big learning curve for these seven newcomers. They are going to be able to make an impact but they are also going to go through some growing pains. The upperclassmen have done a great job of bringing them along and helping them out. At the same time, they have jumped right in and done an outstanding job of figuring things out quickly and bringing a competitive atmosphere into the gym."
Gabrial Rushton is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and has spent the past two seasons competing at junior colleges. As a freshman, she was a Region XIV All-Region Honorable Mention selection at Trinity Valley Community College (Texas). She totaled 137 kills, 100 digs and 51 blocks before transferring to Hutchinson Community College (Kan.) for her sophomore season. At HCC, Rushton led her team with 143 blocks (33 solo, 110 assists) while posting 131 kills, a .305 attack percentage and 100 digs, helping the Lady Dragons to a 10th-place finish at the NJCAA Division I National Volleyball Tournament.
Emily Clemens was a 2012-13 Under Armour First-Team All-American selection after leading Lindenhurst High School to a 15-4 overall record and an appearance in the Suffolk County Class AA Championship game. She totaled 315 kills, 233 digs and 68 service aces and is the top-rated player in the six-state region of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
Tyler Ockleberry, a native of Atlanta, Ga., competed scholastically at Riverwood International Charter School. She was a two-time All-Area selection and helped her team to 17 wins in her senior season. A two-time team MVP, Ockleberry led Riverwood in both kills and digs as a junior and senior.
Natalie Leger averaged 18 kills per match and hit .386 as a senior at Lawrence High School, serving as team captain as a junior and senior. She was voted Most Valuable Player after leading the team in kills, digs and aces and was also an All-Nassau County selection.
Loren Williams, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, helped Hebron High School to a 137-44 overall record over the past four seasons, including a Texas 5A State championship as a sophomore and a District 8-5A championship as a junior.As a senior, Williams posted 228 kills and 40 blocks as Hebron reached the regional quarterfinal. She also competes for the Texas Advantage Volleyball Club.\
Chidima Osuchukwu is a six-foot middle blocker from Virginia Beach, Va., and is a 2012 All-Beach District First Team selection at Floyd E. Kellam High School. A two-year varsity starter, Osuchukwu helped guide her team to three consecutive Virginia High School state championships, including a 25-kill performance on Nov. 18 to clinch the three-peat for Kellam.