The Elon University women’s basketball team and head coach Charlotte Smith will be looking to build upon last season’s record of 7-8. A COVID-19 ridden 2020-21 campaign presented many challenges for the Phoenix. But with a plethora of talent and returning leaders, this year’s squad will be looking to take that next step and contend with the upper echelon of the Colonial Athletic Association. 

The Phoenix are looking to utilize a combination of experience in their starting lineup, which features four senior players and junior Vanessa Taylor. One of the leaders for this squad is senior guard Brie Perpignan. Head coach Charlotte Smith touched on the leaps Perpignan has made on being an influential member of this season’s team.

“Brie brings great energy to practice every day,” Smith said. “She brings a smile on her face every day. She's done a great job of leading this team in the preseason.”

Along with Perpignan, Smith said seniors center Evonna McGill, guard Kayla Liles and redshirt senior guard Ariana Nance will all be counted on to take elevated roles in the 2021-22 campaign for the Phoenix. The experience, and production, from these four key-returning seniors will be crucial for the Phoenix this season.

The CAA preseason poll tabbed Elon to finish sixth in the upcoming season, with Perpignan garnering All-CAA honorable mention honors. Even though the Phoenix are projected to finish in the middle of the pack in the CAA, this squad will be more than prepared for CAA competition after a daunting non-conference slate; which features matchups between women’s basketball giants, South Carolina and North Carolina State. 

“We have always been fearless when it comes to non-conference scheduling,” Smith said. “We play the best because it's either you win, or you learn.” 

South Carolina opened the new season ranked second in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, while NC State was fifth. The Gamecocks and Wolfpack will provide stiff competition for the Phoenix. Smith and the team welcomes the challenge to play the best of the best. 

“I don't think there's any losses in playing games like that because you have everything to win, everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Smith said. “You can't beat them if you don't play. So you have to step up to the challenge and be willing to play games like that, to see what you're made of.”

The Phoenix will look to continue to work hard in the preseason and build momentum for their non-conference slate and CAA campaign. Perpignan said she believes consistency is the key for this squad to be able to create shockwaves throughout the conference this upcoming season.

“Just want to go out there everyday with the same mindset and try to have the same outcome every day,” Perpignan said. “So just trying to be consistent this year and hope that our team can also be consistent.”

Elon hosts William & Mary to open up its conference slate on Sunday, Jan. 2 at 2 p.m.