New coach inherits senior-laden team
The Coker women's volleyball team will experience a slew of 'new' this year. The Cobras have a new coach, are headed to a new conference, and enter the season with new players accounting for half the roster.
"It's a fresh start all around for the program," said head coach Allison Stack, who enters her first season at the helm. "This is an exciting time for everyone involved."
Stack joins Coker after spending the past eight seasons coaching both the men's and women's volleyball teams at Baruch College in New York City. She compiled a 148-101 record on the women's side during her tenure and will be looking to duplicate that success at Coker.
"I came here to win, plain and simple," Stack said. "I feel this is a new era and that Coker volleyball is on the rise."
The first-year coach inherits a team coming off its first playoff appearance in five years. Now, as they head to the South Atlantic Conference, the Cobras are looking to make a name for themselves early. Stack has seven returning players and seven newcomers this season.
Coker lost all-conference performer Brittany Bass due to graduation. This year's team is led by senior Taylor Willis, a right-side hitter, and junior Samantha Celek, a setter and defensive specialist.
Other seniors Kelly Stine, Katie McElveen, Mindy Morris and Hannah Vadakin, along with lone sophomore Loren Hill, are expected to play large roles as well. The newcomers include six freshmen and one junior transfer.
Despite the high percentage of new players, the team is adjusting to new teammates quickly.
"The returners and newcomers have meshed really well," said Stack. "They've been fantastic and worked really hard. I am really happy with the progress."
Along with chemistry, Stack says the offense should be a big strength of the team. The roster has several players who can man multiple spots on the court, giving a plethora of lineup options top to bottom.
Stack is hoping momentum continues to build as the season progresses. The top eight teams make playoffs in the SAC, and the first-year coach has made making the playoffs a top priority this season.
"We just want a chance," Stack said. "Anything can happen from there. We are hoping to stay consistent and be playing our best volleyball come playoff time. I know we are the new kids on the block, but we plan to be there in the final eight. We have a good group of girls, and I know we can do well this season."
The Cobras' season begins Friday, Sept. 6 at Battle at the Springs, hosted by Emmanuel College. They play five matches over the two-day event, beginning with Northwood University at 3 p.m. Friday.