By Mari Pothier | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Dyann Busse
Winning and losing are not the only things Head Coach Taylor Mott wants her volleyball team to focus on this season. She wants them to have an overall great experience on and off the court.
After being chosen for the second year in a row as the preseason favorites in the Peach Belt Conference Coaches Poll, Mott is honored but knows there is a long season ahead.
“It’s hard to be on top,” Mott said. “Everyone wants to knock you down when you’re on top.”
Coming off last season with a 29-9 overall record and losing only one game against Peach Belt Conference teams, the Saints lost two key players, Meg Weathersby and Rebecca Royal.
But Mott said juniors Dianna Craine and Rachel Stacy, who have been selected to be on the Preseason All-Conference Team, are going to be big factors this season, along with Casey Gnann and Olivia Snipes.
The team has returning seniors Snipes, Jillian Unitas and Laura Beth Lancaster. They have also gained one freshman, Allie Reed, and a transfer, Abby Meyers, who is from South Dakota.
It is the team’s chemistry, though, that Mott said is going to help them succeed.
“I want this just to be an amazing season and whatever happens, happens, but I think our chemistry is going to take us a long way,” Mott said.
The Saints’ strength this season is having several players that can play multiple positions, which keeps them from being locked into one set lineup. Mott said consistency is one thing the team has to work on.
Within the Peach Belt, Mott said Armstrong Atlantic University will be their toughest competition, but she believes the Saints have what it takes to defend their two Peach Belt Conference championship titles.
The Saints start the season off away with the Carolina Challenge where they play Tusculum, St. Andrews Presbyterian, Lees-McRae and Wingate, who eliminated them last season in the Southeast Regional finals.
“To me this whole thing is an experience,” Mott said. “It’s not just volleyball. It’s about the friendships you make with the other girls–your academics are obviously very important–and doing things you wouldn’t normally do.”