From the Desk of Coach Cal
Head Coach Chad Callihan will blog each week to give you an inside look on what is going on with Eagle Volleyball. Look for new blogs throughout the season.
The season comes and goes in a hurry. With a successful weekend last week that saw our Eagles post two 3-0 victories against Appalachian State and Western Carolina, we now have only six matches remaining. The season can become a grind, so on Monday we had a fun triples tournament to break up the monotony that practice can sometimes become. While the results aren't official I feel pretty confident in saying that my team with G [Sarah Gildersleeve] and Lindsey [O’Connor] dominated the tournament. We really enjoyed taking down Mo [Moriah Bellissimo], Leah [Kettleson] and Dandy [Danielle Graham] as they came into the match undefeated and feeling unstoppable. Our stellar play, creative trash talking and manipulation of the score flustered their team and they wilted under the pressure that we applied.
Normally, at this point of the season we would be working to improve and trying to build our confidence to peak at tournament time. The feel is a little different this season as we are battling for our playoff lives. This year's tourney format has magnified every win and loss and a let down along the way can really jeopardize the team's goal of competing for a SoCon championship. [Due to economic considerations, the tournament was reformatted for the 2009 season with only the top four teams, or top two in each division, at the end of the regular season advancing to the tournament.]
With that said we welcome Furman to the "House" tonight, the hottest team in the SoCon. They bring a perfect SoCon record into the match and have really put a great year together. We had a good match with them earlier in the year but just couldn't string together enough quality rallies to gain victory. It should be a fun one and I know the team will be excited for the opportunity.
Saturday evening we will host Wofford who really gave us fits to open the SoCon season. The Terriers are leading the SoCon in digs per set and we really had to work to find holes in their defense during our first meeting. Hopefully, with the home crowd supporting us we will find a rhythm early and be able to sustain that throughout the match.
It should be a fun weekend in the "House" as Friday evening the GSU Cheerleaders will host “Parents’ Night Out” and it is also Junior Eagle Club night. Saturday all fans in costume will receive free admission to the Wofford match. As we wind down what has been an exciting season we hope that you will take some time to come support the team at least one more time.
Until next time,
As we prepare for our big weekend road trip to North Carolina (it seems every match is a bigger one than the last), I wanted to take a minute to catch everyone up on the past week. It was a great week for Eagle volleyball as we got to play our first conference matches of the year at home. After three weeks on the road it was great to be back in front of our fans, as they have been fantastic all season.
We hosted The Citadel on Friday evening and really played well against a Citadel team that just continues to improve each season. With that victory we were set up for a critical match with the College of Charleston and it proved to be the battle that I had anticipated. Both teams went back and forth as we took the first set and appeared to have the second under control with a 20-13 lead. That lead dissipated in a hurry as the Cougars came storming back to take a 22-20 lead and hold on for the second set win. The match went back and forth from there as neither team was able to gain a strong advantage. This continued until CofC took a 14-12 lead in the deciding fifth set. When all seemed lost the team was able to string together a 4-0 run to take the match 16-14. It was a great battle that will hopefully revitalize the intense rivalry that the two teams have shared this decade.
After the big win we hosted the Girl Scouts and enjoyed a fun pizza party and a clinic. The scouts were great and the team really enjoyed having them in attendance and getting to know some new fans a little better.
We had a big midweek match with Davidson. I was curious to see how we would keep our composure after the dramatic win over Charleston. The team has matured quite a bit in a year and when Davidson came out firing to take an early lead off some incredible defensive plays, I was pleased to see our group stayed poised. This would have really shaken our confidence a year ago but instead the group continued to work hard and was able to capture the win.
The team is really beginning to hit their stride with 10 matches left to play. With three huge conference wins this past week we are building confidence and chemistry. Unlike last season, it seems we have a different player stepping up each night to shoulder the offensive load. If it's not Bethany [Sanford] and Parker [Small], Hannah [Nelson], 'LC' [Lauren Claybaugh] and 'G ' [Sarah Gildersleeve] come through with big matches. On Tuesday against Davidson we were able to get a big boost from the bench as Mo [Moriah Bellissimo] went in and really made some big plays. The one constant throughout has been the passing and defense from Cristin [Haines] and the reliability of Kate [Van Dyke] putting our attackers in good situations. Being a true freshman, she has played with great poise all season.
We will see what we are able to do as we hit the road this weekend to play two of the hottest teams in the conference with Elon and UNC Greensboro. Until next time,
It was a great weekend for the Eagles as we traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee to face the Lady Mocs. With the new conference schedule format this year we have two weekends where we only have to prepare for one school. This was the first of those and it was really nice to have a full week of practice and scout only one team. We enjoyed a great week in the gym and it was really the first time since preseason that we have been able to get a full week of practice in. When in need of some productive practices it's always nice to leave the friendly confines of Hanner Fieldhouse and head down the hall to Old Hanner. Old Hanner is where we go when it's time to get back to basics and really get some work in. It's the place a sports purist would want to play and we have some of our best training in the old gym. Many people would consider the old gym dark, cramped and gloomy. I look at it as our volleyball sanctuary.
With four good days of practice under our belts we headed over to Rock City for our Saturday match. We stressed all week that this would be a real battle as Maclellan Gym has proved to be one of the most difficult places to play over the last decade. The Mocs are always formidable but they really take it up a notch on their home court. So with all of the practice and all of the talk it was time to play, and play we did. It may have been the best match that we have played during my brief tenure and it was definitely the best we played this season. Our little oompa, Cristin [Haines], set the tone right off the bat with a great dig and she continued that throughout the day. Kate [Van Dyke] did a great job distributing the ball and Smalls [Parker Small] and LC [Lauren Claybaugh] really provided a great 1-2 punch offensively, propelling us to a great 3-0 victory.
I enjoyed the match for about an hour afterwards and then started watching film on the Ospreys from North Florida. UNF visits the "House" [Hanner Fieldhouse] Tuesday night and with all of the time we had to prep for Chat, this really feels like we are scrambling to get ready. After UNF we jump back into conference play for a couple of big matches with The Citadel and College of Charleston this weekend at home. Saturday will be a fun day as we have the Girl Scouts from area troops coming to the match and then we will host a pizza party and a clinic for them at the conclusion of the CofC match.
If you haven't seen the Eagles play this season I want to invite you out to a match this week.
Thanks!!!!! That's how I start this week. Thanks to Presbyterian, Stetson and Troy for participating in a great tournament. Thanks to the Holiday Inn for sponsoring the event and to Eagle Sports Marketing for the countless hours they put into making the weekend a success. Thanks to our media relations department for all of their efforts in organizing a first-class event. Thanks to all of the fans who helped us set the 2nd and 3rd highest attendance marks in program history and thanks to the team and staff who did a great job all weekend long.
Friday was "go time." The team spent time between their classes inviting people out to the match, while Crystal [Poskey] and I went around campus with signs trying to drum up support. Apparently it worked as over 500 fans came out to support us and see our home-opener! The team punched the clock (literally they punched a time clock that I found at an antique store) prior to the match and went to work. The newly formed pep band and the Blue Zoo were great as the crowd stayed rowdy all evening and helped us to an exciting three-set victory over PC.
Saturday saw more excitement for the Eagles as we were able to play a clean match against Stetson, minimizing our errors and playing pretty fast. Kate [Van Dyke] and Moriah [Bellissimo] connected well and really gave us a nice offensive punch. The victory set up the championship match against Troy and their ultra-athletic middle Meghan Gilroy. We kicked the evening off with the first "volleyball tailgate" sponsored by the GSU Athletic Foundation. It was a great event and over 160 people attended the tailgate. With another awesome crowd in attendance cheering us on, we were able to get off to a quick start and sustain that for a 2-0 lead heading into intermission. Set three was a different story as Troy came out and really dominated us. It was the first time the team had really faced any adversity on the court, so I was curious to see how we would respond. I didn't have to wait long to find out as the team jumped out pretty quick behind Sarah's (Gildersleeve) big kill and block and we were able to maintain that momentum through championship point of the fourth set.
We could not have asked for a better start to the season and hopefully the confidence gained will carry over as we travel to Fort Collins, CO to face perennial power Colorado State. It should be a great trip, and a great environment. Rams fans are passionate about their volleyball, and I can't wait for the team to experience all of the excitement. Hopefully we don't lose any bags (or players) on the way and we can give our hosts a great match.
August 22 was an exciting day on the campus of Georgia Southern. The morning saw the annual Little Eagles football clinic, while the afternoon saw a first with the Eagles volleyball clinic and the Blue-White volleyball scrimmage. It was a great day as around 40 people attended the clinic and even more attended the scrimmage. The kids that attended the clinic were great and the team really enjoyed teaching them some new skills and playing some fun games. The obstacle course was a fan favorite and plans are already being made to make it even better next year. A shout-out to all of the marketing staff that helped us get the project off the ground.
The Blue-White scrimmage was great and it gave our newcomers a chance to experience what their first collegiate match will feel like on Friday. Hopefully, it allows them to manage the emotions they will be experiencing on the 28th when they step foot on the court for the real thing. Kate Van Dyke set the White side and did a tremendous job keeping her team in system and hitting at a high percentage. I had the great fortune of setting the Blue side and let's just say my better days are in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, that made the scores pretty lopsided but there were still some great performances. Bethany (Sanford) led all players with 16 kills, no errors on 27 swings and has really become an efficient attacker. Other notables were Hayli (Ketner), who chipped in 12 kills while Cristin (Haines) anchored the defense with a team best 13 digs. Cristin had exactly 13 more digs than me but I can still talk a better game than her.
Boy, has preseason flown by. It always feels like you could use another practice to tweak some things, but I know the girls are chomping at the bit to play a different opponent. Whether we are ready doesn't matter because on the 28th at 7:00 p.m., it's go time!!
We are excited about hosting the Holiday Inn Invitational this weekend and look forward to welcoming Presbyterian, Stetson and Troy to Hanner Fieldhouse. It should be a good first weekend, and I am expecting some exciting matches. The match environment in ‘The House’ should be more exciting this year as we have been able to obtain a pep band that will play at 11 of our matches this fall. We will also have the ‘Blue Zoo’ in ‘The House’. The Zoo is our volleyball student fan club and we can't wait to see them getting fired up in the stands.
Be sure to join us Saturday Aug. 29th at 6:00 p.m. for another volleyball first. The GSU Athletic Foundation will be sponsoring the Volleyball Tailgate and they are providing pizza, hotdogs and hamburgers to all season ticket holders and students with a valid I.D. I will be coming out to give a pre-game talk about our great sport and the match-up against Troy. It should be a great night so please be sure to join us as we serve up a great start to the season.
Things certainly change in one week. Last week we were in the office prepping for the arrival of the team, trying to make sure all of the paperwork, travel and team meetings were set. This week we are lucky to be in the office long enough to check e-mail. With plenty to still do I want to take a moment and recap the first few days of preseason.
Freshmen--It doesn't take long to spot the freshmen in the group. On the first day Crystal [assistant volleyball coach Crystal Poskey] was headed to meet the team at 1 pm to issue equipment. On the way down the hall, she ran into five girls wandering aimlessly around the halls of Hanner Fieldhouse in search of the team room. With that said, next year we will begin preseason with a campus tour. Stops on the tour will include their apartment building, team room, the gym, the training room and the dining hall.
First Practice --What a difference a year makes -- last year our first preseason practice was new for everyone, therefore things moved very slowly and there was plenty of explaining. This year feels like a well-oiled machine, with 10 returners leading the way, we have become incredibly efficient in the gym. The returners, led by Cristin [Haines], Sarah [Gildersleeve], Blaire [Brueggemeyer] and Lindsey [O’Connor], have done a great job of grabbing the new Eaglets and showing them how we do things. Vocal leaders have emerged in the form of LC [Lauren Claybaugh] and Hannah [Nelson] and as a staff we couldn't be happier with the work ethic of the group.
The Training Room--After a good hard practice there is nothing like a trip to the training room to visit Beth Saunders, our athletic trainer. The favorite stop while in the training room is a nice relaxing soak in the ice bath. Think of a cold shower with two ice chests full of the frozen stuff mixed in. Doesn't that just sound refreshing!!! Mandatory after every practice, it's great to see the mindset regarding the baths change from apprehension on day one to begging for the ice bath on day three. “Ice baths, one of the many perks we are proud to provide.”
We Want You--In an effort to generate an exciting fan base the Eagles have set out door-to-door to conjure up interest in our program. We have been out three different days and have been well received by the community. We want to get to know people in the community so that when they come to a match they will know, and have had a chance to speak to the people they are watching. In addition to going door-to-door, we will be offering a free volleyball clinic Aug. 22 from 1-3 pm at Hanner Fieldhouse. Any and all ages are invited and it should be an exciting afternoon.
Funny Story-- Before I go any further let me rewind and say that we had watched freshman Kate Van Dyke play quite a few matches while we were recruiting her and our biggest concern was that she always looked so fatigued. After every point she would just look worn out and I was concerned if she had the stamina to make it through a collegiate match. Now fast forward to practice, on day one Crystal was working with Kate on some footwork. After running in about four different directions the drill stopped and Kate just began gasping. Crystal looked at Kate and asked if she was alright. Kate responded, "I have a little problem where I forget to breathe when I am running." Crystal told me that and we both started laughing and said that explains it all. I sure hope we don't play too many long rallies when Kate is on the court, and if anyone has access to an oxygen tank for us to keep on the bench, it will be much appreciated.
I just wanted to take a moment to update everyone on the program before preseason gets fired up. It has been a busy but exciting summer. I have just returned from recruiting at the USA High Performance Championships in Fort Lauderdale. Prior to that Crystal [Assistant Coach] and I were in Orlando for the AAU Championships and then Miami for the USA JO Nationals. Kate Van Dyke, Ashleigh Wienbarg and Danielle Graham all participated in Miami and a special congrats to Danielle for being named to the 18-under National All-Tournament team.
The team has been busy too. Eleven players have just finished with summer session and the group has done very well. The team used this time to get ahead in their majors, and to work out and play. Skyler [Pyles], our strength coach, has done a great job training the team and I know we will definitely benefit from the time with him this summer. Cristin Haines, our lone senior, set-up open gyms so the team could play some during summer session. Plus, Statesboro is great in the summer with all of the local pools and the beach so close by. We would also like to welcome Joe Sherman as our new manager. Joe is a senior in the Sports Management program.
The Locker Room
With the help of Dennis and Charlcye Brueggemeyer we have been able to remodel our team room. Dennis constructed new custom lockers and had them installed for us in May and they look fantastic. A special thanks also goes out to Roy and Deborah Thompson of Statesboro Floor Covering for their generous donation of new carpet. We have a few minor enhancements to finish up and we will have a first-class locker room for the team to enjoy. One of the projects we are implementing is the Locker Legacy. The idea behind this is to create a new tradition for our program where a former player sponsors a locker. As players graduate they add their name to the inside of the locker, creating a locker legacy for current players to recognize who came before them.
Preseason is right around the corner as players report to campus August 6. I can't wait to get started and the team appears eager to build on last season. August 22 will be a busy day as we are holding a free clinic for all ages at 1 p.m. in Hanner Fieldhouse. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a first-time player, this clinic is for you so lace up the sneakers and come join us for a fun day in the gym. Following the clinic we will also be hosting the Blue-White scrimmage at 3 p.m.
We kick off the season hosting the Holiday Inn Invitational Friday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. against Presbyterian. The 29th we host Stetson at noon and Troy at 7p.m.
Then we hit the road for week two, traveling to Fort Collins, CO where we will play perennial power and host Colorado State, along with Ohio State and UT-Arlington. On our return home from Colorado we will make a stop in Savannah to play Savannah State Sept. 7.
We are back in Hanner Sept. 11-12 to host the "Bash in the 'Boro". ACC and SEC foes Wake Forest and Auburn will be in attendance along with Coastal Carolina, who is coming off of a stellar 26-win season.
Again we hit the road again Sept. 16 for a non-conference match at Charleston Southern before attending our last tournament at Winthrop.
Conference play opens for us in late September on the road at Wofford and Furman. A few changes to the conference this year include a schedule of 16 matches instead of the 18 that have been played the last few years. The SoCon tournament will also have a different format for 2009, as the top two teams from each division will earn the right to play instead of the eight team tourney that has been utilized in the past.
It should be an exciting home season as we are working hard with our marketing and media relations departments to create an awesome game day environment. In addition to some great volleyball we plan on having a number of give-aways and exciting contests to keep the fans involved. Check the Website soon for a list of season long promotions. A heads up if you plan on attending a home match this year, there will be an admission fee, so please consider ordering a season pass now. Information and order forms regarding season passes can be found at georgiasoutherneagles.com.
Check back often for updates and we hope to see you at a match this season.
- Category: Volleyball
- Published on Friday, 30 October 2009 08:28