What you need to know:
*Georgia State volleyball began practice Wednesday afternoon.
*The Panthers return 13 players from last season’s roster, three that finished 2017 with 200-plus kills.
*GSU will host 12 home matches, including contests against Ole Miss and Georgia Southern.
ATLANTA- Georgia State volleyball began the 2018 preseason with a practice Wednesday morning in the GSU Sports Arena. The team officially reported to campus on Monday.
The Panthers will have just sixteen days to prepare for the season opener against Mississippi Valley State on August 24 in Starkville. The match against the Delta Devils will be the first of three for GSU in the Starkvegas Classic tournament. The Panthers will also battle California Baptist and Mississippi State. Georgia State’s home opener will come two weeks later, on September 7 as the team hosts Sam Houston State.
GSU will rely on veteran leadership, as the team welcomes back 13 letter winners, including five seniors. Three juniors, five sophomores, and three incoming freshman round out the 16 player roster.
“We are in a very different place this year compared to last season when we had seven freshmen and no seniors”, said coach Sally Polhamus. “With the leadership of our five seniors we are able to have a smooth transition right into practice.”
Georgia State returns 91% of the 2017 team’s offensive production, led by Crystal Lee, Sydney Stroud, and Morgan Hash who all recorded at least 200 kills last season. GSU also returns two 400-plus-assist setters in Sarah Renner and Carley Eiken; as well as six players who recorded at least 100 digs.
Despite the returning production, Polhamus stated that developing the offense and finding ways to score points will be a main focus of fall camp.
GSU’s 27-match schedule is highlighted by 12 contests at the GSU Sports Arena. In addition to Sam Houston State, the Panthers will host Chicago State and Ole Miss in non-conference play as part of the GSU Invitational.
The team will kick off conference play on September 21 at the GSU Sports Arena, hosting 2017 Sun Belt champion, Coastal Carolina. Overall, the Panthers will play nine conference matches at home and seven on the road.
The regular season will conclude with a pair of matches against rival Georgia Southern. The Panthers will host the Golden Eagles on November 7 before heading to Statesboro for the final match of regular season on November 9.
Georgia State hopes that the 2018 season will culminate with a deep run in the Sun Belt Tournament, which will be held in Atlanta. The tournament will take place November 15-18 with all matches being played in the GSU Sports Arena.
“It’s great to have all sixteen players on the floor together for the first time”, said Polhamus. “We are off and running, and focusing on bettering ourselves every day leading up to the regular season.”
For more news and notes follow @GeorgiaStateVB on Twitter.