The College of Coastal Georgia volleyball team swung into a new season this past weekend when it held the Mariner Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
In the tournament, which included 11 teams and was played at two sites including Coastal Georgia’s Howard Coffin Gym, the Mariners won three of their four matches to finish with a 3-1 record to start the season.
Coastal Georgia third-year coach Leah Mihm was pleased overall with her team’s performance.
“I think we played really well this weekend. We passed well in serve receive which allowed our setter and hitters to be successful,” she said.
The Mariners opened the tournament by playing three matches on Friday and then just one match on Saturday.
The team won all three of its Friday contests, knocking off Mayville State (3-2), Point University (3-0) and Tennessee Wesleyan (3-1).
But on Saturday, the Mariners missed out on the chance to sweep its four invitational matches when they fell 3-1 to Reinhardt.
The Mariners figure to be led offensively again this season by senior middle hitter Kyra White, who was the school’s women’s athlete of the year as a junior.
White is one of the most prolific hitters in the program’s history. She came into the season with 1,002 career kills and should surpass the career mark of 1,240 by fellow middle hitter Allie Shannon before season’s end.
White’s single-season high is 402 kills which she achieved as a sophomore in 2016.
She had 53 combined kills in the four tournament matches with a high of 19 in the opening match.
“Kyra had a great preseason and is ready to win,” Mihm said of the team’s four-year starter.
The CCGA coach knows the Mariners need balance to compete in the Sun Conference where the team hopes to do better than its predicted third-place finish in the league preseason poll voted on by the coaches.
The Mariners are hoping sophomore Azure Werner, freshman Molly Fletcher, junior Jessica Brown and senior Alexis Downey will combine to help White in the team’s offensive attack.
“We’re looking for Azure to put the ball away on the outside,” Mihm said. “Jessica Brown and Molly Fletcher on the right side are going to be an offensive threat. We’re still trying to figure out who’s going to be our other outside. We’re nursing some injuries right now, but should be healthy when conference play starts.”
Sophomore setter Ashley Kot did a good job distributing the ball in the offense in the weekend tournament. Forced into a starting role last year as a true freshman, she finished with 861 assists in her first college season.
In 16 sets over the weekend, she dished out 176 total assists and averaged 11 assists per game.
“Ashley worked really hard last spring and over the summer and has improved tremendously,” Mihm said.
The coach added that the Mariners need to improve their overall serving and defense, mainly their blocking at the net.
She was pleased with the play of junior transfer Yorelis Rio Gonzalez in the libero position in the tournament. She played in three of the four matches and recorded double-figure dig totals in each match.
The Mariners are scheduled to play several matches in tournaments the next two weekends and then a single match at Valdosta State on Sept. 5 before taking on Keiser in their first conference match on Sept. 8 at home.
For more on the Mariners, visit www.coastalgeorgiasports.com