Georgia Southern volleyball will head to Knoxville, Tennessee to participate in the Tennessee Invitational this weekend in its last series before conference play opens Sept 27 at Coastal Carolina. The Eagles will play three matches against North Dakota State, Eastern Tennessee State and the host Volunteers on the SEC Network.
After a tough 2018 season and a coaching change, Eagle volleyball has begun to make improvements under first year head coach Chad Willis. After winning four of its first seven games, GS will look to stay ahead of an even record with a final tune-up entering Sun Belt competition.
GS’ opponents are currently a combined 15-9, but only one team clears the .500 mark by more than one game. The North Dakota State Bison have gone 5-4 to this point, collecting tight wins over Illinois-Chicago, Central Michigan and Buffalo. The Bison offense is led by homegrown junior outside hitter Alexis Bachmeier, who currently leads the squad with 81 kills and a high of 21 points in that aforementioned win against the Chippewas.
The Tennessee Volunteers enter their home tournament 3-4 on the season, including a pair of losses to a then sixth ranked Illinois team. UT’s wins have come in a 3-0 thrashing of Miami-Ohio and 3-2 wins over Michigan State and Houston. Despite the record and close games, the Volunteers received votes and earned top 25 rankings at various points throughout the season. That collection of talent, both from this particular opponent and the tournament as a whole, doesn’t intimidate the Eagles.
GS will close the weekend with a match against the 7-2 East Tennessee State Buccaneers. ETSU has played four Sun Belt teams to this point and collected wins over Troy and Georgia State as well as 3-2 losses to Coastal Carolina and App State. The Bucs’ offense runs through freshman setter Emily Arnold, who currently leads the team in sets with 224 (for reference, the next closest player has 22). Although ETSU plays at a lower level, their current record and record against teams of GS’ class suggest all three matches will provide a trying test to a young Eagle squad still developing its rhythm and chemistry.
The Eagles’ first match of the tournament against NDSU is set for 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Michael Smith, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org