Attitude Fuels Young Southeastern Volleyball Squad
HAMMOND, La. – Preseason practice is a time for players to get acquainted with new teammates and develop a winning chemistry.
Southeastern Louisiana volleyball coach Jim Smoot believes this season’s squad reported to camp a step ahead.
“The most impressive thing is the attitudes that came in,” he said. “They’re fired up to be at Southeastern and playing together. Over the summer while playing for different club teams, the newcomers would seek each other out at tournaments and hang out. They came in to camp with a great bond.”
A byproduct of the camaraderie is an improved outlook.
“The expectation is that we’re going to win,” Smoot said. “Let’s do what we need to do to make that happen. That’s a major thing, the outlook they have. It’s the foundation that we will build everything on.”
Southeastern returns just five players, and no seniors, off last season’s squad that finished 7-23 overall and 6-10 in Southland Conference action. The Lady Lions advanced to the conference tournament for the third consecutive year.
With the influx of newcomers, Smoot is also tinkering with the how the returners fit into the system.
“We’re making some changes,” he said. “Savannah Alcazar will be primarily an outside hitter. Elyssa Purcell is only going to be a hitter. Right now we’re leaning toward running a 6-2. Michelle Mirarchi, our freshman setter, will play when Haley Baker rotates to the back row. Chloee Holden, Elyssa and Grayce Bateman look like they will be our primaries on the right side.”
Smoot praised the athletic ability of middle blocker Jodi Edo, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as the hitting acumen of freshman outside hitters Alli Capps and Marisa Calvaruso, a native of Denham Springs, Louisiana.
“Right now we’re trying to find who will be our second middle,” Smoot said. “If we have to move Savannah back, who will be our other outside? Tempestt Vaughn has been looking great in the middle, and we’ve been trying Sam Gomez out both left and right.”
The veteran coach is also high on his defensive specialists, juniors Lexie Torres, a transfer from Hill College, and Macey Stock, also a native of Baton Rouge, along with freshman Alexis Pratt.
“We don’t have any seniors, but I don’t think we’re lacking in leadership and experience,” Smoot said.
Southeastern was ranked 11th out of 13 teams in the Southland Conference preseason poll released earlier this week by the conference. The preseason poll is voted on by head coaches and SIDs from each Southland volleyball school. Voting for one’s own team is not permitted.
The Lady Lions open the regular season Aug. 25 in Birmingham, Alabama, against host Samford in the Courtyard by Marriott Invitational. Southeastern’s home opener is Sept. 12 in the University Center against Southern Miss.