Sept. 12, 2012
BEAUMONT – The Lamar volleyball program will look to build off a challenging pre-conference schedule this week as they open Southland play with a pair of road matches, beginning with a trip to Nicholls on Thursday and visit to Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday.
“After three weeks of getting to play other competition, we’re ready to see conference competition,” head coach Justin Gibert said. “We’re used to playing away from our gym, but we just need to play well to get wins. We’re going to be a lot younger and we’ll have a couple of freshmen out there who are major contributors to what we’re doing. We need to play well and harness the leadership of the mature players that we do have on the court if we want to be successful.”
The Lady Cards (8-6) will be looking to continue their strong history in Southland openers after winning five of the last six, which includes a 3-1 decision last season over Southeastern Louisiana. Overall, Lamar is 8-6 in the first game of SLC play since rejoining the league in 1998. However, the mark drops to 3-4 on the road.
This season marks the first since the 2007 campaign that LU will start off play at Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana, which saw the Lady Cards earn a pair of 3-0 decisions en route to winning the Southland regular season title.
Lamar will be without the services of senior outside hitter Cynthia McCollum, but thanks to the play of middles Wendy Krell and Cortney Moore, outside hitter Sierra Whittaker and setter Alex Morford, Gibert believes the team will still have enough firepower as the Lady Cards move into conference season.
“We’re a little beat up, so I wish we were a little healthier, but we have to play the way we are,” Gibert said. “I feel like our offense will still be strong. Not having Cynthia is definitely a huge hit, but Alex does a great job moving the ball around. Our middles are putting balls away at a pretty good clip. Sierra’s done well. The main concern for us is getting Alex the ball consistently enough. Cynthia is one of the best passers on our team and the most experienced back row player. If we get the ball to Alex, I think we’ll have a pretty good offensive performance.”
LU is 22-7 all-time against Nicholls, including 9-3 on the road. The Lady Cards have won 12 of the last 13 meetings with the Colonels, who are entering play on Saturday with a 3-6 record. The lone loss in the stretch came in 2010 in Thibodaux. Prior to that, LU had not lost a match to Nicholls since 2005.
Lamar has been just as successful against Southeastern Louisiana as well, racking up 22 wins in the 26 meetings since 1984. LU is 9-3 in Hammond after dropping a 3-1 match to the Lady Lions last season. The loss ended a 10-match Lady Card winning streak that began in 2005. SLU is 4-4 this season.
First serve on Thursday in Thibodaux is set for 7 p.m.