Lees-McRae, new HBCU team Benedict to play home-and-home series in 2022

Photo courtesy of Lees-McRae athletics

A new rivalry is set to establish itself in 2022 between a ConfCarolinas school and a first-year program from a historically black college.

Lees-McRae as part of releasing its upcoming regular season schedule announced it will play a home-and-home non-conference series against Benedict.

Benedict is one of six historically black colleges and universities from the SIAC that will start men’s volleyball programs in 2022. In addition, the Tigers are the only SIAC team in South Carolina and the third school from the state to have an active NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team.


Gwendolyn Rouse, who is also the Benedict women’s volleyball head coach, will serve as the inaugural head coach for the school’s men’s volleyball team.

Lees-McRae during the 2021 regular season upset eventual ConfCarolinas champions Belmont Abbey and reached the ConfCarolinas Tournament opening round. Among the starters returning for the Bobcats include libero Steven Nalls who ended last season in the nation’s top 20 with a 2.05 digs per game average.

The Bobcats also will feature a new head coach for the upcoming season.

Pono Yini, a former assistant coach with the Drake women’s volleyball team, was hired in August to replace Caitlin Bullock. Bullock departed Lees-McRae in the offseason to join the women’s volleyball coaching staff at Appalachian State.

The inaugural meeting between Benedict and Lees-McRae on Jan. 28 will be the Bobcats’ home opener. Benedict will play host to Lees-McRae on March 22 to conclude the home-and-home series.

2022 Lees-McRae regular season schedule

Jan. 15 at Queens
Jan. 28 vs. Benedict
Jan. 29 vs. Bluefield
Feb. 3 vs. Edward Waters
Feb. 8 vs. King
Feb. 11 vs. Emmanuel
Feb. 12 vs. Erskine
Feb. 19 vs. North Greenville
Feb. 23 at Belmont Abbey
Feb. 25 at Barton
Feb. 26 at Mount Olive
March 2 at Bluefield
March 5 vs. Long Island
March 7 vs. D’Youville (at King)
March 9 vs. Alderson Broaddus
March 16 vs. Belmont Abbey
March 22 at Benedict
March 25 at Erskine
March 26 at Emmanuel
March 29 vs. Queens
April 2 at King
April 5 at North Greenville
April 8 vs. Mount Olive
April 9 vs. Barton