A little freshmen firepower might just be what the Lady Blazer volleyball team needs to jump into the discussion as legitimate contenders to win the Gulf South Conference.
True freshmen Nikki McDaniel and Kelsey Kovar have made the list of the conference’s top newcomers and will grace the opportunity to prove themselves through the course of the long season.
McDaniel started her college career impressively last weekend with a team high 45 kills to lead the Blazers undefeated through the tournament.
Kovar finished the tourney with 18 kills and 16 digs in her college debut.
“They’re a big part of what we do especially with the nature of their position,” Coach Sia Poyer said. “In volleyball you got to have good outside hitters. Nikki and Kelsey are very competitive young ladies. The talent is there, they’re still young. I’m counting on them a lot.”
VSU volleyball team has never won the GSC tournament but is looking to make this a special season.
The young and talented hitters have begun looking up to the seniors, especially fellow outside hitter Katie Onushko.
The All-American is atop of the outside hitter position on the team.
The freshmen duo, who played in all 14 sets last weekend, has already begun making their case known that they should be out on the floor despite their age or experience.
McDaniel, a Deland, Fla., native, was named the 2011 News-Journal Player of the Year and voted as one of the top 20 volleyball players in central Florida.
As far as her high school career goes, she left Deland High setting new school records, leading her team all the way to the Class 8A semifinals match in her final season, and now leaves that all behind accepting her role as the newbie.
“I get along with everybody really well,” McDaniel said. “I’m just excited to play and contribute to the team.”
Korvar, the other only true freshmen, has traveled over a thousand miles to wear the red and black.
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, she’s very excited to make a name for herself bringing all the skills she has learned in the white north to South Georgia.
A former member of the Ontario Volleyball Association Regional Team, she earned the chance to compete in the Ontario Summer Games a couple years ago.
Similar to McDaniel they’re both coming off outstanding high school careers.
Kovar and McDaniel credit coach Poyer for making the transition a smooth process and wholeheartedly trust him with the future of their careers.
“He’s really chill and knows how to have fun but when he wants to get something done, he knows how to get it done,” Kovar said. “I think we have a real good chance winning conference.”
The Blazers have taken the right step in doing so now (4-0) to begin their 2012 campaign.
Onushko and Tauiliili are still expected to be the anchors for the Blazers, yet the team could ultimately be more dynamic if team members can have relief from time to time with help of the skilled freshmen pair and improving sophomore middle blocker Destiny Berry.
VSU now travels to Boca Raton, Fla., to compete in the Lynn Invitational.
This is the Blazers last tournament before they come home to start their tough conference schedule where they’ll be looking to prove themselves as one of the conference’s best.
“Talent wise we got it,” Coach Poyer said. “I’ve been really happy with them. The good thing is they know our goals. They know what it takes and the sacrifices. Our goal is to play quality volleyball.”