LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Another year and another opportunity to build upon a growing legacy is upon the Covenant volleyball team. With four straight USA South division titles, the Scots are once again poised to make a run at a regular season title under seventh-year head coach Joanna Ehman in 2019.
Covenant opens the season at the McAttack Bash, hosted by Birmingham Southern, this weekend. The Scots square off with Birmingham Southern on Friday, Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. eastern (8 p.m. central).
Picked as the preseason favorite in the USA South West Division in the league's annual preseason poll, Covenant will be seeking a fifth straight regular season crown. The Scots also enter the year with a conference-best 22 home match win streak in USA South regular season play. In its run of four straight USA South regular season division titles, Covenant has a 49-8 conference record.
The roster features 15 players, including four returning starters from last year's team that finished 15-13 overall, but 12-2 in the USA South.
Three seniors in Allie Jakes, Emily Moore, and Lindsey Stephens look to lead the squad as Covenant has depth and talent all around the court. Moore was a second team All-USA South West Division honoree last season and can play multiple positions for the Scots. Jakes is a force in the middle as she tallied 63 total blocks last season to go with 157 kills, while Stephens recorded 97 kills a year ago despite battling an injury.
The setter position is up for grabs. Moore and junior Leah Buys have the most experience on the roster as both played in that role at times last season.
Sophomore Riley Howe had a strong rookie season and is poised for an even better second year, while fellow sophomore Savannah Savage returns after missing all of 2018 with an injury. A third sophomore, Autumn Parrott, joins the team for the first time.
Ehman's recruiting class is, quite literally, a big one. Five freshman join the squad, with all but one standing at 5-foot-10 or taller. Jess Chesrown tops the newcomers at 6-foot in the middle, while Taylor Caldwell (5-foot-11), Grace Logterman (5-foot-10), and Heidi Burkett (5-foot-10) add size up front for the Scots. Anna Baldwin rounds out the class and can play multiple positions.
Historically, Covenant plays a tough non-conference schedule and the same is true this year.
Covenant will square off with defending national champion, and preseason No. 1-ranked, Emory twice during the year. The Scots and Eagles face each other on Sept. 7 as part of the Berry National Invitational in Mount Berry, Ga., before Covenant hosts Emory on Oct. 15 on Lookout Mountain.
Covenant will also face region powers Berry (Sept. 21) and Birmingham Southern (Aug. 30) in non-conference action. Berry is ranked No. 19 in the preseason Top 25, while Birmingham Southern is receiving votes.
Conference play opens on Homecoming weekend as the Scots host matches against Berea and Maryville on Sept. 28 as part of a USA South quad-match. It will mark the first time since 2015 that Covenant has played home matches during Homecoming weekend.
The USA South Tournament is set to begin on Tuesday, Nov. 5 with the top six teams in each division qualifying. The top two seeds in each division will host first round and quarterfinal rounds matches, while the semifinals and championship will be played at the highest remaining seed on Nov. 8-9.
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