SAN ANGELO – The Belle Volleyball team, the top-ranked team in the country, opens their fall 2021 season this Friday and Saturday inside the Junell Center when they host the Kathleen Brasfield Invitational. The Belles are looking to continue off their momentum from this past spring, a season that saw them go 17-2 overall and win both the Lone Star Conference Tournament as well as the AVCA National Championship Tournament.
The Belles, who were picked to repeat as LSC champions in the conference’s preseason poll, start their season off with four teams that went a combined 29-24 this past spring, good enough for a .547 winning percentage.
The Belles return four of their five all-conference selections from this previous spring, including the reigning player of the year Kailyn Gilbreath. The senior has averaged 3.45 kills per set in her time at Angelo State, as well as recording a .316 attack percentage.
Other all-conference returnees for the Belles include libero Chloe Patton, who averaged 5.42 digs per set; Sophia Berg, second on the team this past spring in kills (138) and blocks (50.0); and Grace White, who recorded 94 kills and 35.0 blocks.
The Belles also return LSC All-Freshman selection Elsa Lamphere and her 125 kills from this past spring.
Head coach Chuck Waddington adds five new players to this season’s team – one transfer to go along with four true freshmen. Junior right side Chloee Holden joins after transferring from Southeastern Louisiana; the four new freshmen are Jaedyn Woolley, a defensive specialist from Amarillo; Caleigh Enax, a defensive specialist from Haslet; Emma LaBarge, a middle from Oxford, Michigan; and Erin Jones, a setter from New Braunfels.
East Central is the first team on the slate for the Belles, scheduled to start at noon on Friday. The Tigers went 5-7 this past spring, advancing to the second round of the Great American Conference tournament. They are led offensively by outside hitter Thalianette Garcia, a second team all-conference selection, who averaged 3.13 kills per set in the spring.
The Belles’ game on Friday at 6 p.m. is against Western Colorado, who went 6-8 this past spring. The Mountaineers return their two top attackers from this past spring in Jordyn Todd and Caroline Parker, who combined for 292 kills en route to both being named all-RMAC selections.
On Saturday, Anderson will be the Belles first opponent, scheduled for a noon start time. The Trojans went 9-3 this past spring, with all four of their all-conference selections as well as a two-time South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year in Todd Hay, who has led the Trojans to an 87-22 record in his four seasons as head coach.
The Kathleen Brasfield Invitational wraps up with the final game of the weekend seeing Northwestern Oklahoma State taking on the Belles at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Rangers return All-GAC First team selection Kaydee Honeycutt, who led the GAC in kills and points this past spring as the Rangers went 9-6 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the GAC tournament.
Following this weekend’s games, the Belles will go on the road to Colorado for a trio of matches next week.