by: Caleb Odom
For the Troy volleyball team the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament will be just a walk across campus away.
With the departure of Middle Tennessee to Conference USA, Troy’s brand new Trojan Arena was selected to play host to the upcoming conference tourney.
“As a senior, it is super important for me and it is a really big honor for us because my freshman year we didn’t even go to conference,” Senior libero Courtney Cohen said.
The eight-team single elimination volleyball tournament will begin on Thursday, Nov. 21 and conclude on Saturday, Nov. 23.
The winner of the conference tourney will get an automatic bid into the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
“It means a lot for the team,” Cohen said. “It means we have improved so much and that we are starting to get some respect from everybody in the conference.”
Respect indeed for Troy who was the No. 2 seed last season in Sun Belt tournament that took place in Bowling Green, Ky.
Heading into the 2013 campaign, Cohen and her team of Trojans look to improve by winning more games than their 21-12 record last season, including a crucial win on Saturday, Nov. 23 to make it to volleyball’s big dance.
“We are going to win,” Cohen said. “We are going to win and now that we have conference here we need to show up and play well and show people that last year wasn’t just a fluke, and we are improving every year. I expect next year to be better than this past year.”
At the end of the 2012 season, Troy lost seniors right side hitter Mailande Parker and middle hitters Devin Von Pingel and Breanna Cullity, but two new signees are set to join the team this coming season.
The additions of six-foot middle hitter Kiah Cheatham from Greenville, S.C. and five-foot-nine outside hitter Symone Shaw from Homewood, Ala. will help bolster the thinned lineup from the departures of Parker, Von Pingel and Cullity who accounted for 695 total kills.
More promising things for the Trojan squad are that the team’s 2012 kill leader, sophomore Blair Winston with 356 and team dig leader, Cohen with 563 will be returning.
The stage is set and the women are ready for fans to watch Troy volleyball during the season, along with the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
“They will be able to experience our program moving forward,” sophomore outside hitter Kayla Pickart said. “Having it here they’ll get to come watch and be a part of that and see that we are moving up.”