HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The scenery for the first day of women's volleyball practice is substantially different this year for second-year head coach Allison Stack. Coker opened the brand new state-of-the-art Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center this summer, and Stack and the Cobras will be the first to test it out.
"The DeLoach Center is a game changer for us as a program," said Stack. "Our team is looking forward to playing here and as a coach, I take pride in being the first team that gets to play in this amazing facility."
The Cobras come into the season ranked No. 12 in the South Atlantic Conference preseason poll, while Wingate University and Tusculum College were picked as the favorites to win the conference.
Stack and the Cobras have not allowed the preseason ranking to put any doubt in their expectations as a program this season.
"Rankings are just a popularity contest," said Stack. "We have a young and talented team that will compete at the highest level and put on a show for everyone that comes out to support us in the new DeLoach Center."
After graduating five seniors from a year ago, the 2014 Cobras' squad sports 17 players, including five returners and 12 freshmen.
Leading the way for the Cobras will be senior Samantha Celek. Celek saw action as a setter the last two seasons but will make the move to libero for her final collegiate campaign.
"Sam is a phenomenal player and even better captain," said Stack. "Sam understands what it takes to win and made the move to libero without any hesitation. It's players like her that allow good teams to be great with their unselfish attitudes."
"Christen and Bailey are both equally good," said Stack. "Christen is a pretty good hitter as well, so we will likely run a 6-2 to take advantage of that and make sure they both stay in matches as much as possible."
"Madison, Brooke and Megan are outstanding hitters," said Stack. "The key for them will be getting accustomed to the speed of the college game. Their talent will be apparent right away, but maturation takes time and as the season goes on I expect great things from all three."
Stack knows that her second year in the SAC will not be easy, especially with a team full of freshmen, but she is up for the challenge.
"We are only concerned with building a champion," said Stack. "The SAC is highly competitive and we will use every day of practice and each game to continue building our program. The goal for every team is to win a championship and that is our goal as well, but it takes time and we are getting better each and every day we take the court."
The Navy and Yellow opens its season on Friday, Sept. 5 at the North Greenville Tournament, hosted by North Greenville University. They play four matches over the two-day event, beginning with St. Andrews University at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, followed by Columbia College at 5:00 p.m.