Georgia Southern made a huge statement in its last ever Southern Conference volleyball tournament by winning the program’s fourth title in convincing fashion, and the Eagles aren’t anywhere close to done.
They earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament where they expect to hang around.
“We’re looking to win,” first-year coach Dustin Wood said. “We’re not done yet.”
And why not? The Charleston Cougars played their last SoCon season in 2012, won the league, went to the NCAA tournament, and defeated Miami in the first round.
The Eagles (28-5) have the best record in program history, lost only two non-conference matches to Georgia and Troy and have notched wins over Ole Miss, North Dakota State and future Sun Belt rivals Arkansas State and South Alabama.
They will find out who they will face in the NCAA tournament on Sunday on the selection show that airs at 9 p.m., on ESPNU.
The Eagles are led by juniors Jamie DeRatt and Kym Coley, who were named first-team All-Southern Conference, and sophomore Katalin Minnerly who was named second team.
Wood credits the upperclassmen, especially the team’s three seniors, who have won 98 matches in their careers.
“They deserve all the credit in the world for this.,” he said. “They pulled through. It was nice to see the seniors go out as the winningest class in school history.”
Wood was impressed with the team’s composure throughout last weekend’s conference tournament.
“Once we got to Sunday, you could just feel them kind of loose and in control of everything.” Wood said. “I actually woke up more nervous than they did.”
There won’t be any nerves during the Thanksgiving holiday, and there probably won’t be any when the Eagles find out who they will face in the NCAA tournament, either.
“Whoever we get, we get,” Wood said. “We’re going to prepare like we’re going to win. This team is capable of getting to the second round, and who knows after that? I think we’re just going to enjoy this week. They’re going home to their families, so we’re not going to worry about next week until Monday.”
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.