Volleyball heads into Sun Belt Championship with victory in mind

Derik Wuchte

The Eagles volleyball team has put together an interesting interesting season. The team started on a linear path, taking two wins and two losses at the Florida Atlantic Invitational. They traded off wins and losses until the team hit an awkward patch in the road. Regrouping took a bit of effort, but the Eagles didn’t stay down and found themselves with a 10-18 record and a Sun Belt Championship berth on their back. They’ll now be facing the No. 1 seed Arkansas State on Friday to decide if this season is worthy of a championship title.

“We definitely wanted to make the tournament; that was our goal this season,” redshirt-junior Alex Beecher said. “We’ve been working so hard all season and the past few weeks; you can see how we’re peaking. We’re getting to where we need to be.”

This past weekend, Southern competed against a now 14-17 Troy team.The team clicked on all cylinders to beat the Trojans 29-31, 25-16, 25-11, 28-26.

Troy finds themselves at a No. 7 seed for the Sun Belt Championship as they face No. 2 App State. No. 6 South Alabama will face No. 3 Texas State, and No. 5 Little Rock will compete against No. 4 UT Arlington. That leaves Southern at the No. 8 seed, facing off the top contender of No. 1 seeded Arkansas State.

“It’s going to be a hard match no matter what, but I believe in our chances,” Beecher said. “I think anything can happen. It’s hard to beat a team three times. I think we can really do this. We’re getting a lot better and everything is coming together right at the end.”

The biggest advantage for Southern will be home field advantage. Hanner will be the site for the Sun Belt Championship through this weekend of Nov. 20 through Nov. 22. True Blue has been with the Eagles all season, but they have been in stronger force and bigger numbers towards the end of the season. With the last few matches aligning for the team, there is no doubt Southern will need all the support possible to help them find victory.

“It’s so exciting. I’ve never got to experience [a Sun Belt Championship] so that’s my first time over the four years,” Beecher said. “Being able to play at home, especially with your home crowd, gives you an extra incentive to want to play for them. It gives you that extra energy in the gym. We’re so excited about that. Hopefully it’ll give us a bit of an up against our opponents.”

There is a number of ways the Eagles can win and lose on Friday. They have been very momentum based, as a team, this year. When some of the players play slow, everyone tends to play slow. When others are high tempo, the team is high tempo. Finding the perfect mix of overwhelming their opponent, but never losing their composure, will be vital, especially against a tempered Arkansas State team.

“I think what we need to do is come out strong from point one and till the very last point,” Beecher said. “What we have tended to do this season is start really strong and have a random set like, ‘Where did that go?’ instead of just being consistent.”

“I think consistency and keeping our energy (from fight) from point one will really pull us through. When we have energy, and we’re loud and we’re fighting, no one can stop us.”

Three wins is all the team needs. Three wins will put the Eagles past the Sun Belt Championship and into national championship ramifications. It starts and ends on Friday against the best team in the Sun Belt Conference at 7:30 p.m in the Hanner Fieldhouse. Southern will be putting their season on the line with their biggest match of the year as they look for success and look for a major victory.