WBB SEASON PREVIEW: Pioneers aspire to exceed high expectations

Sarah Ashley Dribbling
Senior guard Sarah Ashley is one of three seniors leading a veteran-laden and deep Transylvania squad into the 2017-18 season

Lexington, Ky. - Expectations are higher than ever as the Transylvania women's basketball team prepares to embark on its voyage through the 2017-18 season.

Last week, the Pioneers were picked in the annual coaches' poll as preseason favorites to claim the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference crown over HCAC powers Rose-Hulman and Hanover.

In 2016-17, the Pioneers compiled a record of a 20-8 overall and 12-6 in HCAC play. After opening the season with a road loss to nationally-ranked Carnegie Mellon, the Pioneers regrouped to win 13 of their next 15 games, including a season-long eight-game win streak. Transylvania went into the HCAC tournament as the No. 3 seed before eventually falling in the championship game to Rose-Hulman 50-40.

Led by fourth-year head coach Juli Fulks, the Pioneers are primed for an impressive season on the hardwood. "We are excited to kick off the 2017-18 season with everyone returning from last year," remarked Fulks. "Our veteran group has worked hard in the offseason to improve and we look forward to mixing the new freshman into the rotation."  

Transylvania's roster is packed full of returning talent as the Pioneers had no seniors on last season's squad. Among those returning players is junior guard Celia Kline (Madeira, Ohio / Madeira HS), who led the Pioneers in scoring last season with a mark of 14.9 points per game and was named to the All-HCAC First Team.

The Pioneers will also rely heavily upon senior forward Rachel Cox (Independence, Ky. / Simon Kenton), another All-HCAC First Team selection who led Transylvania in rebounds last season with 7.6 per game in addition to her 12.9 points per game. Cox also recorded the third triple-double in Transylvania history, in a 71-60 victory at home against Hanover on December 7. Cox provided 31 points, 12 rebounds, and a single-game record 10 blocks in the contest.

Along with Cox, the Pioneers' senior class also includes guard Sarah Ashley and forward Carlee Clemons, who both appeared in all 28 games for Transylvania last season while averaging over 10 minutes per game.

In addition to the familiar faces, the Pioneers will look to a freshman class that includes six new Pioneers. New to the Pioneers is guard Zenoviah Walker (Danville, Ky. / Danville), who averaged 10 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in her senior season at Danville as she led her team to a record of 18-9.

Joining Walker in Lexington is forward Miranda Otero (Brook Park, Ohio / Berea-Midpark), who averaged 12.5 rebounds, seven points, two blocks, and 1.6 steals per game as a senior at Berea-Midpark as she led her team to a record of 24-3.

Transylvania's nonconference schedule is highlighted by the Pat Deacon Classic at the Beck Center on November 25 and 26. The tournament honoring the legendary Transylvania coach will feature the trio of Otterbein, Westminster, and Maryville. The Pioneers will then get the HCAC portion of their schedule going with a visit to the Anderson University Ravens on November 28. Just prior to the Christmas break, the Pioneers will head north to face The College of New Jersey and Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.) on December 19 and 20.

The Pioneers will tip off their season with a trip to Marietta, Ohio on Sunday, November 19 where they will face the Marietta College Pioneers in a non-conference matchup. The opener is set for 2:00 p.m. at Ban Johnson Arena.

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