SoCon champs to begin tournament play

Photo by: Ryan Woodham

Zakyra Colvin

The Georgia Southern University volleyball team will play its first round of the Southern Conference tournament against Elon University (16-16, 7-9 SoCon) tomorrow.

The Eagles, who are SoCon Champions for the second-straight year, have had a dominant season.  The road has not been easy, but they fought hard.

“We started off very strong. We bought into the season and kind of got into a little midseason funk, but we were still winning,” head coach Dustin Wood said.  “We threw some things in and adjusted and I’m just really proud of them.  They came to play and this is where we need to be peaking at the right time.”

The Eagles had several changes at the beginning of the year that they had to adjust to.

“We came into this season, new coach, new coaching staff, a few of them, and we could have fallen apart,” senior defensive specialist Lauren LaRocque said. “We just pulled together as a team and we played for each other this season, and you could just tell that no one wanted to let anyone down and I think that was our best thing that we played as a team the entire season. No one got down, everyone picked everyone up and everything went perfectly.”

The Eagles won the SoCon regular season title, but it was the last regular season game for three of their seniors, outside hitter Nicole Jeschelnik, middle Enjoli Johnson and LaRocque

“I’m hoping to continue playing overseas, but I think we get so close as a team it’s like I’m going to have to leave my family,” Jeschelnik said. “We become a family, we love each other; we do everything together; that’s what I’m going to miss the most, the whole family feeling.”

“I’m going to miss just being around the team every day and having someone give me a workout plan because I know I’m going to stop,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be hard. I’m just going to miss our team so much.”

The Eagles are No. 1 in the conference and support has been a strong factor in their success this season.

“Thanks to our family and friends for supporting us and just loving us,” Johnson said.

“Thanks for all the support. Our professors work hard to make it easier for us, a huge congrats to them,” LaRocque said. “Our coaches don’t do all the work, our professors are the other end of the work they do.  Dustin’s made the change and the transfer to the season really, really easy, so it’s been nice.”

One team that the Eagles are looking forward to facing again is Furman University, who beat them in both matches in the regular season. A possible matchup with Furman wouldn’t occur until the SoCon championship.

“I think when we played them we beat ourselves, they didn’t beat us, so all we worry about is taking care of ourselves and if we do that and we play like we did [last weekend] I think things will take care of themselves,” Wood said.  “Just going in there confident next week, I think this is what we needed so we’re looking forward to next week and if we see them, great. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

“Furman will be a tough opponent, but we’re ready for them. We didn’t play our best against them, so they haven’t seen our best yet and we hope to bring it when we play them,” Jeschelnik said.

The Eagles, who hold the No. 1 seed, will begin SoCon Tournament play on Friday against Elon, who hold the No. 8 seed, in Greenville, S.C.