Eagles defeat the Bulldogs at the Georgia Challenge

Derik Wuchte

The Eagles competed in the Georgia Challenge this past Thursday and Friday in Athens. The Eagles played against Kennesaw State, Georgia and Georgia Tech, and went 1-2 in the Georgia Challenge, the Eagles picked up some lessons and also made history as their record moves to 3-4 on the season.

A close 2-3 loss to Kennesaw State made for early disappointment to the Eagles on Thursday. Given the Eagles’ velocity and style of play, the team was confident entering that match. Coach Dustin Wood knew some factors working against the team, but not enough to keep them from winning.

“We knew we shouldn’t have lost that first match,” Wood said. “We were the only team to play twice that day. We outplayed them in every aspect, but when it came down to crunch time, we couldn’t pull through. It was one of those letdowns we had mentally. We’re going to learn from that match.”

Despite not getting a victory against Kennesaw State, Southern earned a historic program first later that night: defeating Georgia in volleyball.

“We really prepared for Georgia in the scouting reports,” Wood said. “It was good to finally them in our program’s history. Steph Spencer led the way. She was the best player in that gym that night. Lauren Reichard played really well that night as a freshman. Crysten Curry also had big plays. Just to beat them on their home court was great.”

The match was televised on ESPN, giving people a chance to see what Southern was bringing to the table this season. The atmosphere for the match was good and it got Southern’s product out there, as Wood explained.

Going from the 3-1 win over Georgia on Thursday night to the early match against Georgia Tech on Friday at 10 a.m., the Eagles felt some fatigue.

“We came out a little flat against Georgia Tech,” Wood said. “It’s tough playing a night match and then playing in the morning. We had three swings, but just couldn’t do it. We physically just withered a bit.”

The 0-3 defeat to Georgia Tech was tough, but it didn’t set the Eagles back. They get an opportunity to host a tournament with three other teams in the Hanner Fieldhouse this coming weekend. Tennessee State, Winthrop and Chicago State will be the competition, and the Eagles are happy to be playing somewhere comforting.

“We’re looking forward to hosting a tournament this weekend. It’ll be nice to be home for once,” Wood said. “We got a really good schedule. Hopefully more fans will turn out. We’re looking forward to getting better each and every day.”

Play begins on Friday, Sept. 11 at noon. The Eagles will compete against the 0-4 Tennessee State Tigers then. They will have a second match that day at 7 p.m. against the 0-7 Winthrop Eagles. Their final tournament match will be on Saturday at 10 a.m. as they face the 0-6 Chicago State Cougars.