Aug. 23, 2012
CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina volleyball team is just one day away from its season opener against ACC foe Clemson University and head coach Jozsef Forman believes his team is prepared for its tough pre-conference schedule. The Chants return five starters plus the libero from last season and have added some additional firepower to the line-up with the addition of four newcomers.
CCU lost just three student-athletes from last year's squad and 12 are returning. Among the group of returnees are co-captains Meghan Laffin and Lauren Alejo who will be key to the Chants' success this season.
"Meghan and Lauren have brought great leadership off the court which has transferred onto the court," said Forman. "They are both great examples to our freshmen in terms of their work in the classroom as well as their work on the practice court."
Forman has been working with the team since last January and he has been impressed with the work they have shown on and off the court.
"I'm so proud of the team," said Forman. "They have a great attitude when on the court and I believe they represent the University in the right way both academically and athletically."
Coastal has added four newcomers to the mix, all of whom will step in and compete right away. Sophomore Jenna Orner joined the squad after transferring from Jacksonville University and has added depth and experience to the defensive side of the court.
"Lindsay (Gill) was injured the last few days of the spring and Jamie (DiMaggio) stepped up big time to fill her role," said Forman. "With the addition of Jenna (Orner) who has really good experience from Jacksonville and Samantha Palka who has been doing really well during preseason practices we have three good defensive players which makes us very confident heading into the season."
"Gabriella is an outside hitter which is a crucial position for us," said Forman. "Step by step she has been reaching a higher level since stepping foot on campus. Eszter just joined us at middle blocker. She is a very talented player who can be one of the best middles in the Big South."
The Chants open the season with a pair of tough tournaments at Clemson and the University of Pittsburgh. Coastal will battle Clemson, who was picked to finish third in the ACC this season and returns all six of its starters from last year plus a libero. The Chants will also take on Xavier University in the opening weekend. Xavier was picked to finish second in the Atlantic-10 and will be another formidable opponent. CCU's final opponent at Clemson will be South Carolina State, a team the Chants have had success against in the past winning 21 of 26 matches.
Coastal will then travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Big East Conference host as well as Butler and Howard universities.
"These opening two tournaments will be excellent tests for us," said Forman. "Our goal is not winning or losing. Our goal is to do the best we can do as a team. We know exactly how well we can play from watching practice and my expectation is for our team to go out and play its best."
The Chants have an open week that will be crucial to the team's early season development following the two tournaments. Following the break Coastal returns to the court for the East Carolina Invitational where the Chants will face Marshall, UMBC and East Carolina.
"The East Carolina Tournament will be the real test before we start conference play," said Forman.
CCU will open up its new home, The HTC Center, on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. as the Chants take on Big South Conference foe Winthrop. The match will kick off Coastal's Big South Conference season in which they will battle nine other teams for the BSC crown.
"This conference has some very good teams and some very good coaches," said Forman. "The last couple of years Big South volleyball has improved a lot. I think this year will be a really exciting race to the championship."
One of Coastal's goals for the season is to win every home match and Forman knows a big part of that success will be the fan support.
"Our team is ready to fight," said coach Forman. "I believe that any fans that come to The HTC Center will enjoy the experience and will be impressed with the attitude the team brings to the court."
The Chants host a pair of home matches in September (Sept. 21, 22), three in October (Oct. 12, 13, 16) and three in November (Nov. 2, 9, 10).