BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern women's volleyball team begins a new era under Head Coach Haven O'Quinn in the fall of 2017. With 12 underclassmen, the Panthers are young, but primed for success in the new system.
"Even for the returners, it's going to be different," said O'Quinn. "The biggest thing right now is trying to get that team chemistry and dynamic set and established before the whistle blows. You have to hit the ground running."
The Panthers will look to seniors Chloe Ballard (Hoover, Ala./Hoover HS), Rachel Lee (Montgomery, Ala./The Montgomery Academy), and Rylee Segrest (Anniston, Ala./The Donoho School) to pace the transition. Along with Lee, BSC returns two other 2016 Southern Athletic Association All-Conference selections in junior Marjorie Ward (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) and sophomore Caroline Johnson (Lucas, Texas/Lovejoy HS).
"Marjorie did a lot for the team in a lot of different positions," O'Quinn remarked. "She's very versatile, very savvy, and has very good knowledge of the game. We're going to rely on her on the court."
Ward started in 27 of the teams 29 games last season and led the team in double-doubles and triple-doubles in the categories of kills, assists, and digs. Johnson earned first-team honors after finishing as the top defender in the conference at 6.22 digs per set.
"Rebecca came in and started contributing as a pin hitter, but we think there are a lot of different things she can do," added O'Quinn. "Julia had a really good spring; we're going to rely a lot on her. With the strong rotation girls along with Melaina and Caroline, we should have a strength defensively."
Five of the seven newcomers are freshmen. O'Quinn remarked at how energetic the group as a whole was adding "they really have a passion and joy for playing volleyball and I want that to be contagious. I'm hoping our court dynamic stems from their energy."
The Panthers kick off 2017 by hosting the McAttack Bash where they welcome four teams to Bill Battle Coliseum September 1-2.
"I think to host to start off, you feel comfortable," said O'Quinn. "To open at home is more calming, especially for the new girls."
BSC brings in Washington and Lee University, Maryville College, Sewanee, and Covenant College for the tournament that is in honor of former Panther Jennifer McKannon's father who died from ALS. They then hit the road for the UT-Tyler Tournament where they will see No. 8 Texas-Dallas. The Panthers face two other nationally ranked opponents at home this season on October 22 in No. 2 Emory and No. 20 Hendrix.