by Neil Frawley
After countless hours of practice, the VSU volleyball team is just about ready for its season-opening West Georgia Invitational in Carrollton, Ga. this weekend.
Seven teams will be on display at the tournament, and three represent the Gulf South Coast Conference, including host team West Georgia, West Alabama and VSU. The two-day tournament will have the Blazers going up against four of the conference opponents.
On Sept. 6, VSU will begin its season at 2 p.m. against Georgia College and follow up with another game at 7 p.m. against Notre Dame College. On day two of the tournament, the Blazers will play Malone University at 11:30 a.m. and King University at 2 p.m.
First-year Head Coach Mike Swan and the Lady Blazers are eager to put their high expectations to the test starting this weekend.
“For our season opener, of course we are very excited,” Jordana Price, assistant volleyball coach, said.
But despite having to play four games in two days, not to mention nine games in just eight days, the team is looking forward to the chance to play a lot of games to get used to playing with each other.
“Fatigue is always going to be a concern for us just because we want to make sure the girls are well rested and in good shape, but I think it’s normal, and they expect it to be a long day, and they’re excited about it,” said Price. “We just really work on getting our skills ready, getting our team really meshing together and moving and flowing and learning to play with one another because they haven’t played together before.”
According to Coach Swan, the team has been making major strides during the weeks of practice so that they will be ready from the very start of the season.
“I like the progress we have made in the last week,” Swan said. “I felt that in the first two weeks we saw small increments of improvement. This week I feel like things are starting to click, especially on defense. I think (the team is) getting comfortable with each other and knowing what (their) limitations and capabilities are, (such as) how much range some people have compared to others.”
Of course there are always areas of weakness needed to be addressed and kinks needed to be ironed out.
“We’re just trying to address areas in which we know we are weak and trying to improve that,” Swan said. “Our biggest area that we still have to see major improvement on is in service, (meaning) passing the ball and being able to stay in system with our sets so that we’re getting the ball to our hitters, and getting them one on one (with the defense).”
Overall, the Blazers are almost ready to finally see some opposition to gain a feel for where they fit in against their competition. It’s a chance to gain perspective and know if all the preparation in practice has them truly ready to chase a conference title from the start, or if there is finer tuning needing to be done. Either way, it sets up to be a very compelling season.
“We just want to get some exposure and kind of see where we are at,” Price said. “We need to work on our strengths, so it’s an opportunity for us to work out some kinks and get ready for our conference play.”