Looking Back: A Season of Records for 2009 Eagle Volleyball
Second-year head coach Chad Callihan took a program that went 10-21 two seasons ago and produced the eighth 20-win campaign since the inception of volleyball at Georgia Southern in 1985. GSU swept series with Wofford, Chattanooga, The Citadel and Davidson en route to posting a .667 winning percentage, fourth best in program history. The record season marked the first to break the record books since 2004. The Eagles uprooted College of Charleston in five sets for the first victory over the Cougars since 2004 and took perennial powerhouses Auburn and Furman into five-set matches.
Two members of the Georgia Southern volleyball team were honored with an All-Southern Conference selection. Sophomore outside hitter Bethany Sanford and freshman setter Kate Van Dyke were named to the All-Conference First Team, while Van Dyke also picked up All-Freshman Team honors. The First-Team selections marked the first since the 2005 season.
Four different Eagles earned All-Tournament honors during the season. Sanford and Van Dyke were joined by sophomore Lauren Claybaugh on the Holiday Inn Invitational All-Tournament team that opened the season for the Eagles. Sanford was also named the Tournament MVP. Two weeks later at the Bash in the ‘Boro, Sanford and Sarah Gildersleeve earned All-Tournament honors as the Eagles came in second after dropping a heartbreaking five-set decision to Auburn in the championship match.
Two Eagles were honored as the SoCon Player of the Week throughout the season with Sanford earning the recognition twice. The first occurrence came after the season-opening tournament in which Sanford hit .364 with 37 kills in three matches. The sophomore recorded her first double-double of the season in the championship match against Troy with 14 kills and 11 digs. She picked up her second Player of the Week honor two weeks later after the Bash in the ‘Boro tournament recording 59 kills, including a career-high 24 against Coastal Carolina. The Eagle recorded double-doubles in each of the three matches.
The second Eagle to earn the honor was setter Van Dyke for the week of October 5-11. The freshman helped lead Georgia Southern to its first victory over College of Charleston since 2004, highlighting the three matches of that week. She averaged 12.36 assists per set (136 assists total) during the week, falling just short of a triple double-double against the Cougars, recording 63 assists, 14 digs and eight kills.
In addition to having a record-setting team that posted the fourth-best winning percentage in program history, two players set school records. Van Dyke’s 1,228 assists total ranks her fourth on the assists leader board in a season, while her 10.5 assists per game average pits her third in the respective category. Earning a spot in the record book following her inaugural campaign as an Eagle, Cristin Haines now owns two spots on the single-season digs record list. She broke into the category in 2008 collecting 518 digs to rank her third and now owns fourth recording 477 in 2009.
The Eagles began the season with a 3-0 record taking the Holiday Inn Invitational title and finished the fall tournament season standing with a record of 9-5 that included wins over Wake Forest and Coastal Carolina. Georgia Southern jumpstarted conference play with a road win at Wofford, 3-1. Following a loss at top-ranked Furman, the Eagles went on a five-match win streak with wins over conference foes Chattanooga, The Citadel, College of Charleston and Davidson and non-conference foe, North Florida. The streak ended with consecutive losses at Elon and UNC Greensboro before the Eagles got back to winning ways against Appalachian State and Western Carolina.
The Eagles sandwiched losses to Furman and College of Charleston around a win over Wofford before ending the 2009 season on a three-match win streak ousting The Citadel, Davidson and Samford.
Georgia Southern concluded the 2009 season as they began it, with a sweep over an opponent, thereby sealing the best season since 2005. The Eagles, building towards a Southern Conference Championship, will return tremendous experience to the court in 2010 and look forward to building on the success of 2009.
- Category: Volleyball
- Published on Friday, 11 December 2009 09:17