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Monday, Nov 28, 2022

SoCon Tournament Preview: Volleyball

Outside hitter Heather Swann delivers a bump pass in the Bears' Oct. 31 match against Eastern Tennessee State.
Outside hitter Heather Swann delivers a bump pass in the Bears' Oct. 31 match against Eastern Tennessee State.

The indoor volleyball team has one more regular season conference match before they turn to the Southern Conference championship tournament at the end of the month.

Currently, the team holds a 9-18 record, and is 4-11 in SoCon play. Their final game is against The Citadel. The Bears have a good shot at winning, Head Coach Damian Elder said.

“We’ve beaten [The Citadel] already, so we hope to sweep them,” he said.

In order to prepare for the tournament, Elder said the volleyball team will “try to stay healthy so that all of the players are ready to play the first match of the tournament.”

“They will work on “tweaking whatever it is [they] need to work on” after each match leading up to the tournament, and mostly focus on “playing in practice, as there isn’t a lot left to do as far as drills go,” he said.

The Bears will enter the tournament ranked seventh in the Southern Conference. However, their standing does not necessarily reflect how well they have performed against top-seeded teams such as Furman and Chattanooga, which hold the first and second rankings, respectively.

When the Bears played Furman Saturday, Oct. 17, they lost by an extremely close margin. Mercer scored more points than Furman throughout the match but ended up falling 22-25, 25-15, 25-22, and 25-22 to the Paladins.

Against Chattanooga, the Bears managed to steal a single set but fell three sets to one in both match-ups against the Mocs.

Elder said this bodes will for his team.

“We have proven that we’re right up there regardless of the standings, and we’ve only lost matches to the teams in the top of the standings by a few points, so we match up really well.”

The Bears have had notably more success at home than on the road this season.

At home, the Bears are 7-4 and 1-10 in away games. Elder said he mainly attributes this disparity to the lively home crowd and the atmosphere the team experiences while playing at home.

“Our crowd and the environment at Mercer has been a huge factor in our success at home. [The girls] have an entire support system from the time they get up until the time they play, and we try to recreate that on the road as best we can. We attempt to make it as routine and easy as possible on the road, but there’s just no way to recreate our environment at home,” he said.

Although the Bears have experienced some difficulty performing to their potential on the road, they have the confidence and talent to compete — and beat — teams at the Southern Conference championship tournament, Elder said.

“Mercer indoor volleyball has never won a conference [tournament] match in either the Atlantic Sun or the Southern Conference,” Elder said. “But right now, since we’re so close to beating every team in the conference, we can reasonably have the goal of winning the entire tournament. That’s not too far out of reach.”

“But first of all, we must focus on getting the first one in the history books if we can,” he said.




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