The women’s volleyball squad is hitting the court for the first time Friday when VSU hosts the Wingate by Wyndham Azalea Classic.
The team faces some challenges as they adjust after losing four seniors from last season, but Head Coach Sia Poyer is anxious to see his six new freshmen prove themselves to their squad mates.
“I’ve got six new faces, all freshmen,” Poyer said. “Some of them I am really counting on to help fill the holes that those four seniors from the year before have left.”
Team captain Chelsea Logan, a senior middle blocker and outside hitter, understands the talent lost from last year’s squad but is ready for a productive year.
“I think we have to pick it up a lot because we lost four starting seniors,” Logan said. “I think we’re ready for the challenge.”
These new players are not only being brought in from high schools, but also club teams from around the country.
“Club volleyball is huge,” Poyer said. “A lot of the tournaments you will go to, you’ll play against other players that will most likely go to Division I schools. The level of competition is nothing new to them.”
The veterans have been working with the new players, trying to get them comfortable with this level of play.
“[The six new kids] are working hard, and I can see that my older players really appreciate that,” Poyer said. “That really helps with team cohesion.”
“Our seniors and upperclassmen have been helping us quickly get into the system,” Brittany Smith, a freshman outside hitter, said.
Smith has been impressed with Poyer’s dedication in preparation for the new season.
“He’s really focused on working hard,” Smith said. “He’s good at helping us both individually and as a team.”
The team hosted an alumni match on Saturday, Aug. 27. It was a good chance for the new players to meet and compete with alumni from past seasons.
“Anytime we step on the court, I tell my girls it’s another practice opportunity for us,” Poyer said. “You step on the court, you’ve got to be consistent, and you’ve got to play at a certain level.”
The Blazers have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming tournament, which starts Friday. VSU will play two games Friday and another two games on Saturday.
“With four games in two days, we just kind of stick to our game plan,” Poyer said. “The basic philosophy is you try to play as many games as you can just to get ready for conference.”
The team will face some tough competition, including regional competitor Barry, at the Wingate by Wyndham Azalea Classic.
“This weekend, Barry is one of the better teams that are coming,” Poyer said. “Not only are they good, but they are also a regional opponent for us.”
VSU will play their first match against Augusta State at 11 a.m. Friday.
After three consecutive tournaments over three weeks, the Blazers will start conference play on Sept. 20 with a match at home against West Georgia.
Assistant Sports Editor Eric Jackson contributed to this article.