Volleyball Set For Season Opener at TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas - The Coastal Carolina volleyball team begins its Sun Belt Conference title defense this weekend as it takes part in the Cowtown Classic hosted by Texas Christian University. The Chants officially open the 2017 season on Friday against UTSA at 11 a.m. CT (12 p.m. ET) before taking on the Horned Frogs at 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET) Saturday.
Coastal vs. UTSA | Aug. 25 | 11 a.m. CT
Coastal Carolina is coming off its third straight conference championship, including its first in the Sun Belt Conference. The Chants are favorites to finish atop the Sun Belt East Division once again in 2017, receiving all 12 first-place votes in the league's preseason poll.
Leading the Chants' efforts for a fourth straight conference title is senior outside hitter Leah Hardeman, who was recently voted the Sun Belt Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Hardeman -- winner of three conference Player of the Year honors, two conference tournament MVP titles, and a two-time AVCA All-Region selection -- enters her final year ranked fifth in program history in total kills with 1,315.
The Chants' return eight student-athletes overall, including juniors Sara Boothe and Dora Lulic. Each started nearly every match for Coastal last season, with Boothe leading the team in assists per set (6.84) and Lulic ranking second in blocks per set (0.75) in the middle. Another notable returner is senior setter Kate Federico, who played 101 of a possible 112 sets, finishing close behind Boothe averaging 4.87 assists per set.
Just over half of the 2017 squad features new faces as a total of nine newcomers -- the most during the Jozsef Forman era -- will make their debut in Chanticleer uniform. Additionally, with seven of the nine newcomers entering as freshman, this is the youngest team under Forman.
Among the new student-athletes looking to make an immediate impact are senior transfer Leah Levert and junior transfer Sydney Alvis. Levert played her first three seasons at Syracuse, where she averaged 1.33 blocks per set and 1.24 kills per set with a .315 hitting percentage. Alvis' sophomore season at UNC Wilmington saw the defensive specialist finish eighth in the CAA averaging 4.16 digs per set. Her 458 total digs in 2016 also rank eighth among UNCW's all-time single season leaders.
Coastal begins its season with a non-conference slate that is one of the toughest in program history, and features a few teams ranked in the AVCA Preseason Top 25. In addition to the Chants' exhibition versus #12 Florida on Aug. 19, the upcoming schedule features regular season matches versus #21 Ohio State (Sept. 9) and at #11 North Carolina (Sept. 16).
The match versus the Buckeyes caps the Coastal Carolina Classic, which also features Notre Dame and Florida International and is set for Sept. 8-9 at the HTC Center.
Keep up with Chanticleer volleyball all season long by visiting GoCCUSports.com, and following the team on Twitter (@CoastalVball) and Instagram (@ccuvb).