ATLANTA- The Georgia State volleyball team ended the 2017 season with back to back five set victories over rival Georgia Southern. The first gave Sally Polhamus her 100th career victory as a head coach, and the second gave GSU ten wins on the year. The Panthers finished with a 10-19 (4-13 SBC) and finished tied for eighth in the Sun Belt.
The GSU season was marked by extreme youthfulness and an array of close matches. The Panthers’ roster was made up of six seniors, four sophomores, and six true freshmen (true freshman Alexis Parrish was injured in the preseason and redshirted this season). Georgia State was the only team in the Sun Belt to have no seniors on the roster.
All six active freshmen saw significant playing time and gave the Panthers remarkable production. Jha’Meisheia Griffin played in 106 of 117 sets and led the team in blocks and hitting percentage. Kinkaid Padgett was also an integral part of the GSU lineup playing in 95 sets and finishing third on the team with 160 digs.
The young Panthers got plenty of experience in pressure situations as 11 of the team’s 29 matches went the full five sets. Georgia State’s eight five-set matches in Sun Belt play were second only to Appalachian State. The Panthers showed great poise for an inexperienced team going 4-4 in conference matches that went the distance, and 6-5 in such matches on the season.
GSU was able to get veteran leadership from a trio of outside hitters. Junior Crystal Lee (282), and sophomores Sydney Stroud (256) and Morgan Hash (204) led the Panthers in kills and each averaged at least two kills per set. Lee added 54 blocks and 230 digs.
Over the course of the season junior setter Sarah Renner broke into the team’s history books. Renner’s 1,825 career assists rank ninth in school history, and she will look to become the ninth Panther to reach the 2,000-assist mark next season. As a team, GSU improved statistically in kills, assists, and blocks per set from the 2016 season.
The coaching staff is excited to see what this team can do given a full offseason to gel as a team.
“We have a great foundation to build up on this spring leading to the 2018 fall season”, said coach Polhamus. “We took many strides as individuals and as a team that we look forward to continue to develop this spring.”