Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 11 No. 1 | August 2018

42 Inside Hokie Sports Never at a loss for energy or enthusiasm, Jill Wilson spent the early portion of the summer offseason in a place that she absolutely loves. She was at hot and humid Cassell Coliseum and not sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere. Instead of wave-watching and ray-catching, she worked on the court, teaching a collection of kindergartners through sixth graders her passion – how to play the sport of volleyball. These days, her passion centers on her own squad, as the Tech head volleyball coach, her staff and her team officially started practice for the 2018 season on Aug. 7. Entering her second season, she brings plenty of fire to her position, and after a difficult transitional year, her team is starting to follow suit. Hence, the volleyball program’s hashtag - #FuelTheFire. The Hokies feel they have the spark. Now, they just need for the veteran leaders and young talent to fuel it. “We’ve had a very busy 16 months, and I’m really excited with all the changes that we have been able to make and the confidence that is building within our program,” Wilson said in a recent radio interview with ESPN Blacksburg. “A lot of excitement this summer. We had one of our players that was able to represent the USA, and there are just a lot of little pieces that are coming together. It’s going to take us a little bit of time, but our staff is excited about the direction we’re going.” Tech is coming off a 10-21 season, but the Hokies beat rival UVA twice, and as a result, Hokie Nation deemed the season a rousing success. Expectations are a little higher for this campaign, as the volleyball squad returns four starters and its libero from the 2017 team. Tech saw starters Cara Cunningham and Stacey Christy depart, but the returning veterans and incoming talent figure to be able to replace their production. Jaila Tolbert headlines the group of returning players. Tolbert earned second-team All-ACC honors a season ago, and she spent a part of this summer in Detroit with a U.S. Collegiate National Team, YOUNG HOKIES Ready To FUEL The FIRE The Virginia Tech volleyball program features 11 freshmen and sophomores, but the youthful Hokies are optimistic about enjoying success in Jill Wilson’s second season as the head coach by Lance Dozier and Jimmy Robertson Season Preview 2 18 VOLLEYBALL 7 Jaila Tolbert ranked seventh in the ACC in hitting percentage in 2017 6 Tech’s roster features six freshmen this season 5 Five returning players had more than 100 digs last season 4 All four of Tech’s returning starters started at least 26 matches a year ago 10 Ten players played more than 50 sets a year ago 9 Kaity Smith’s nine digs against UVA on Nov. 22 helped the volleyball program clinch the volleyball Commonwealth Clash point 8 Carol Raffety was eighth in the ACC in digs per set last fall INSIDE T H E N U M B E R S 3 Three Tech players scored more than 150 points last fall (Kaity Smith, Jaila Tolbert, Ester Talamazzi) 2 Two players had more than 300 kills for the Hokies in 2017 (Jaila Tolbert, Kaity Smith) 1 Carol Raffety was first on the team in service aces last year with 32 Kaity Smith