For the last two seasons University of Rhode Island senior Franki Darnold has been at the top of her game as an outside-hitter for the women’s volleyball team and this season has set up to be no different.

Earlier this month, she reached her 1000th career kill.

“She is a go-to-player for us,” Rhode Island volleyball head coach Bob Schneck said. “She is one of our senior captains, she is very talented, very skilled and is one of the best Rhode Island has ever had. She is the real deal.”

As a freshman, Darnold played just 20 matches but recorded 85 kills and had the third-highest kills-per-set ratio on the team.

In the two seasons since, however, Darnold has finished with 418 and 422 kills respectively. With 176 kills through less than half of this season, she has set herself up to put up those incredible numbers once more.

Putting those stats into perspective, Darnold was one of just two athletes in the conference to record more than 400 kills last season with Dayton’s Alaina Turner being the only other. 

“I have definitely matured a lot,” Darnold said. “I think I have taken more of a leadership role on the court because there are some players who are going through things for the first time.”

Behind Darnold, who was selected to the All-Conference First Team before the season, the Rams were chosen to finish as the fourth best team in the conference. Although that is among the top grouping in the Atlantic 10, the Rams finished in fourth place last season, and have their sights set higher.

“We meet at the beginning of each year to discuss goals so we can keep referring back to them,” Darnold said. “We have tangible goals and intangible goals, but winning the Atlantic 10, both regular season and tournament is definitely one of them.”

Darnold and the Rams have opened to a 9-3 start, and currently sit atop the Atlantic 10 standings with the top winning percentage in the conference just before the start of conference play.

“We don’t want any regrets when we leave the floor,” Darnold said.

The next match for Rhody is their conference opener as they take on the VCU Rams Friday night at Keaney Gymnasium.