Furman Volleyball Announces Spring Schedule
With other teams in the SOCON losing some of their top talent, The Paladins are a dark horse to win the conference.
On Oct. 22, Furman Volleyball released their competition schedule for the Southern Conference. At first glance, given the schedule and roster of players, it appears the Lady Paladins are in for another competitive year.
The Paladins are scheduled for eight home matches this season, including four of their first six at Alley Gymnasium. The team is looking to improve on its 7-9 conference record from last year and aim for the conference championship. That said, there remain some significant obstacles in the way of the Lady Paladins.
The season opens with Wofford: a highly anticipated and competitive matchup. This game is especially important, not only because it will set the tone for the season, but also because Furman is playing in Spartanburg rather than at home in the Alley Gymnasium. On February 15th, the Paladins will face Samford, an impressive team with a record to show for it. The Bulldogs led the conference last year at 15-1 and posted a very impressive 24-6 overall record as well. This will no doubt be a challenge for the Dins, but Furman ought to have a chance to get past the bulldogs behind the leadership of redshirt senior Courtney Hoffman and junior Neci Harris. Both of these Lady Paladins were on the all-conference first team last season, and the team has shown tremendous improvement with their leadership.
Looking ahead, The Paladin had the opportunity to chat with Andrea Aceveda and Natalie Dunn about their expectations for the season. Aceveda was a member of the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team and had a team high 480 digs. Dunn started 13 of the 18 matches last year, compiling 39 kills, 118 digs, 19 combined blocks, 13 assists and 11 service aces. Both players are looking to build upon their solid freshman campaigns. When asked who the team will be looking toward this season, Aceveda said, “Definitely our middles. Courtney, this being her senior year, she’ll do amazing and end with a great career. Neci is a great teammate to have too.” Natalie agreed with her teammate and said, “Our middles do a great job of establishing position early and our setter does a great job of getting the ball to them, so we are able to capitalize.”
When asked about the toughest matchups of the season, Aceveda said, “I honestly have no clue because I feel like a lot of teams lost their upperclassmen.” This puts Furman in a prime position, especially against reigning conference champion Samford. Samford lost former player of the year Kelsi Hobbs which opens up a big opportunity for the Lady Paladins. When asked about Samford, Dunn responded, “they were senior heavy. Every team is coming in a different spot.” Samford is not the only team to worry about. One week after their matchup with the Bulldogs, the Lady Paladins are up against ETSU, who finished second in the conference last year.
It is clear that COVID-19 will affect each team’s preparations, both before and during the season. However, the team has a good track record of abiding by COVID-19 safety protocols. Aceveda said, “we haven’t had any COVID outbreaks. So, we haven’t had to stop but I know other teams have had quarantine and didn’t get to practice fully.”
Given that the Lady Paladins have retained a lot of talent and many other teams in the conference have lost experienced players, Furman is in an excellent position to finish near the top of the Southern Conference. All in all, it is going to be an exciting year, and this team is going to provide some much-needed sports action for Furman next semester.