VALDOSTA -- The best season in recent history came to an end this weekend as the Blazers (10-23) lost their last game to West Alabama. Though the season is over, volleyball is being seen in a new light by the players, coaches, and the fans.
"I knew from the beginning that we would be underdogs and overmatched against every team," coach Sia Poyer said. "We lost so many close games, but overall I am happy."
For the seniors, the 10 wins was the most they have seen in their college career. Poyer brought in a new scheme and a new attitude in his first season that brought confidence to the team.
"He (Poyer) brought in team unity and made us a lot more confident," senior captain Jill Berkery said.
Poyer gives many thanks to the players and said he is glad the seniors got to experience the winning, seniors like Bree Benners. Poyer said of Benners that "he will miss not just her ability, but her presence on the court. She is a senior, but a very mature senior."
The most memorable game for Poyer this season was the match up against Armstrong Atlantic. VSU hosted Armstrong and handed the perennial Peach Belt Champ a drubbing three games to none.
"It was great because we got to show the fans what we will be capable of next season," said Poyer. "You could see it on their faces. After that match, a lot more people started coming out and showing interest."
There are a lot of good athletes returning next season such as Bentley Knox and Niki Patriarca, but Poyer is still focused on recruiting. The middle blocker and right side are two points that Poyer plans to focus on going into next season.
"I feel good about next season. We are coming back with experience, but we still need more depth," said Poyer. "I don't know if we are to the (GSC) level yet, but after my first year here and seeing the competition and knowing what we have to go up against, I feel good for next year."
Team captain Laura-Lee Atkinson will also be returning to the team next year for her senior season. Atkinson smashed the single season kill record this year. The record of 405 kills was set in 1999, and Atkinson finished with 482 this season.
"I feel like more of a leader this year," said Atkinson on Wednesday. "It was a lot of fun, a lot better than the past two years. Having fun was a lot different."
Atkinson also led the team in digs with 417. The most recalled game for Atkinson was the defeat over West Alabama.
"It was my first conference win. It was surreal," said Atkinson. "When (Game 5) started, I knew we would pull it off. It was the most fun I have ever had."
Coach Poyer and Atkinson are both confident in the team's chances next year and both look forward to getting back.
"I predict that next year we will have a winning record," said Atkinson. "And maybe I can break my own record, too!"
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