When the women’s basketball team decided to cut short the remainder of their 2020-21 season last January due to a plethora of COVID-19 complications and team injuries, they had finished the season winless with five losses.
During that season, the team had 13 rostered players. This season, the number has increased to 14 due to the inclusion of five transfer players.
With this being the case, the roster this season is approximately half-filled with new starters. Despite this, for the 2021-22 season, there’s hope for a less chaotic season as Coach Tina Thompson has faced three unpredictable seasons in her tenure here since 2018.
The standout forwards are among a class of talented upperclassmen that will – unfortunately for Virginia – be graduating within the coming years.
Graduate student forward Tihana Stojsavljevic joined the team as a transfer from Texas Tech in late December 2019. Since then, she collected 19 rebounds with the Cavaliers in the 14 games she played during the 2019-20 season. That same season, she had a career high of eight rebounds against Syracuse.
However, the 6’3” Zagreb, Croatia native suffered a season-ending injury during her first career start against Central Florida last season.
Another graduate student, forward Eleah Parker, will be playing her first season with the Cavaliers starting this week. After playing at Pennsylvania from 2017 to 2020, Parker earned a slew of accolades in her time with the Quakers. Among the most memorable were being selected the 2018 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and making the Ivy League second team in 2018.
Parker was additionally selected to play in the 2019 Ivy League All Tournament Team and was recognized as the 2019 Big Five Player of the Year. Also in 2019, Parker made the Ivy League First Team and did so again in 2020.
Yet another transfer on this season’s roster is junior forward Camryn Taylor. A transfer from Marquette, she was added as the fifth transfer during the Cavaliers’ offseason. Although this will be Taylor’s first season with the Cavaliers, as a sophomore at Marquette, she averaged 12.0 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. That same season, Taylor was ranked 21st in the Big East conference for scoring and ranked sixth in rebounding. During her freshman year, she played in 31 games and finished fourth on the team in scoring with 9.3 points per game.
In the 2020-21 season, Taylor recorded 6.9 rebounds, surpassing every other player on the Cavaliers’ current roster with the exception of Parker, who grabbed nine in her 2018-19 season with the Quakers.
One of the most prominent forwards last season was junior Meg Jefferson. Through December, Jefferson led the ACC and ranked sixth in the NCAA in shooting percentage at 73.3 percent.
After making her first career start last season against Central Florida, Jefferson managed to amass an impressive array of stats. Playing 103 minutes in only three games, she averaged 12.7 points per game, 5.3 rebounds and led the team in field goal percentage, making 77.3 percent of the shots she attempted.
Other rostered forwards this season include sophomores Deja Bristol and Nycerra Minnis and junior London Clarkson.
Junior guard Carole Miller is also among the most impressive players on the Virginia roster. Last season, she had a career high of four steals against East Carolina and scored 16 points the last time the Cavaliers played the Dukes. Miller also recorded 4.8 rebounds and led the team in 3.6 assists in the short span of time that was allotted for last season.
She averaged six points per game, with five double-digit point games, and achieved a career high of 19 points against Clemson in the 2019-20 season.
Junior guard and Marquette transfer, Taylor Valladay, is among the most powerful guards on the roster. Although this is her first season with the Cavaliers, in her sophomore season at Marquette she was off the bench for every game. She scored 12 points against both Seton Hall and Providence and appeared in 20 games as a freshman, coming in as a top-250 recruit that season.
Graduate student guards Amandine Toi and McKenna Dale are both incredibly valuable members of the team, exemplifying the wide range of players that this roster has.
Dale played two seasons at Brown, but missed out on the 2018-19 season due to an injury. At Brown, Dale was ranked third in the Ivy League for points per game (17.0), second in three point percentage (.385), third in three-pointers per game (2.9), first in free throw percentage (.851) and fifth in blocks per game (1.5).
Overall, she was ranked 11th in The Ivy League for points per game (13.4), sixth in three point percentage (.339), sixth in three-pointers per game (2.1) and sixth in blocks per game (1.0)
Toi was among one of the most notable players in the Cavaliers’ shortened season last year, but her success did not start there. Although she’s been with the Cavaliers her entire collegiate career, she missed her first two seasons due to injury and began putting her name up on the leaderboard starting in 2019.
In the 2019-20 season, Toi played in all 30 games, starting in 28 of them, and made a three-pointer on her collegiate debut game against the Bucknell Bison.
The last time the Cavaliers played the Dukes, which was last season, Toi scored a career high of 17 points, and matched her other career high of six assists. That same season, she scored 23 out of the 55 points in the Cavaliers’ first 20 point difference game against the Clemson Tigers (71-55).
Other rostered guards this season include sophomores Aaliyah Pitts and Kaydan Lawson and freshman Annaliese Griffin.
Only time will tell the success of the team as a whole, Toi, Jefferson and the influx of other promising players when they take on the UCF Knights this Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.