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Beach volleyball finds new home in the Sun Belt Conference

<p>Lexi Polychrones dives to save a ball in a match. Polychrones and the rest of Mercer&#x27;s beach volleyball team are excited to start the 2023 season in their new Sun Belt Conference. Photo provided by Mercer Athletics. </p>

Lexi Polychrones dives to save a ball in a match. Polychrones and the rest of Mercer's beach volleyball team are excited to start the 2023 season in their new Sun Belt Conference. Photo provided by Mercer Athletics.

The Mercer beach volleyball team made the decision to switch from the ASUN Conference to the Sun Belt Conference starting in the 2023 season. Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Southern Miss and the University of Louisiana Monroe were in the conference previously. Joining the Bears in the switch will be Stephan F. Austin, the College of Charleston and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

“I really don’t see any (disadvantages),” head coach Josh Marsh said. “I think we match up better against the competition in the Sun Belt, so I think we’re at a good spot.”

Over the winter break, March got a call from a representative of the ASUN committee saying his team would be switched into the Sun Belt Conference at the start of their 2023 season. Since Mercer was an affiliate of the ASUN and not technically a true conference team, other organizations were upset with the fact that Mercer could possibly get an automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament. Because of that, the Bears were, in so many words, asked to look for a new conference. 

“[Marsh] texted us and said that we’re just going to have to figure out how to adjust to it,” Lexi Polychrones '25 said. “We are all looking at it in a positive way so I think it’s going to be something super exciting for us moving forward.”

Polychrones, along with the rest of the team, are working in practice to face new competition in their new conference. However, they have seen many of the schools already in past seasons and are prepared for what to expect. 

“I’m just going to go in it like I would any other conference whether we stayed in the ASUN or not,” Polychrones said. “We’re really excited, there are a lot of competitive schools that are in the Sun Belt Conference, but I think it’s going to be something super positive for us, especially as a young freshmen and sophomore team.”

Marsh is now looking ahead at the opportunities they have to improve as a team. With the team consisting of only freshmen and sophomores, there is a lot of room to learn about and adjust to the new conference. The team realizes now that from a competition standpoint, they are in a much better spot than they were in the ASUN.

“Our season wins record is 15 and based on the talent we have, I see us potentially meeting or exceeding that,” Marsh said. “(The team) is fired up about it, and we’re super excited.”


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