After what has been a tough non-conference schedule to open up the first half of the season, the Samford Volleyball team looks to have a great second half of the season as they begin to enter conference play. So far this season, the Lady Bulldogs have compiled a record of 7-9 (2-0 SoCon) on the season, starting off perfect in their two conference matches.
The Bulldogs have looked impressive on the floor this season after a 2017 campaign that saw them finish with a record of 13-18 and lose to conference rival Wofford in the first round of the SoCon Tournament.
When asked to describe the team’s play this season, coach Keylor Chan liked the improvement he has seen from his team.
“I think we’ve played hard,” Chan said. “We’ve been doing some really good things, and I think we are getting better in a lot of ways. I think if we focus on the process of continuing to get better, then we’ll be where we need to be. I’ve really enjoyed the team’s effort thus far to improve.”
The Bulldog’s non conference schedule included teams all across the country, including Ole Miss, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Air Force, and Denver. Several of the team’s matches have been close affairs, with five of those being decided by one set.
As the Bulldogs enter the heart of their SoCon schedule, Coach Chan knows his team has what it takes to be successful in conference play.
“ I think we need to clean up some execution things now,” Chan said. “I definitely like the moves we are making to get into those places. Hopefully we can start solidifying some of those little things so that we can be really good heading into conference play.”
The 2018 team returns almost of its players from a season ago. The team is led by senior captain Taylor Anderton. The 5’10” setter is someone that Chan singled out as a leader for the team not only on the floor, but off the floor as well.
“ I think Taylor Anderton has really played well,” Chan said. “She’s our captain and our senior setter. I think her growth as a leader has been really nice to see.”
Anderton, Elise Watford, Krista Boesing, Alana Schouten make up the senior class for the Bulldogs. This group has helped lead Samford to 56 wins thus far during their careers. Coach Chan spoke highly of what that group has meant to the team and the impact that they have had.
“Well I think off the floor is the biggest area where they have helped because they are starting to mature as people and starting to figure out who they want to be as individuals,” Chan said. “On the floor, I think they have really developed into better volleyball players, and that’s what I think we really pride ourselves on. They are better players now as compared to when they first entered the program. If we can continue to do that, I think we’ll have a chance to be really good at the end of the year.”
Other players that have been instrumental in the team’s success this season include junior Kelsi Hobbs, who is first on the team in serving percentage, senior Krista Boesing, who leads the team with 233 kills, and junior Grace Tiesman, who leads the team with 264 digs.
When asked about Chan’s favorite part about coaching this team, he pointed to one thing in particular that has stood out to him.
“ I like the resiliency of this team,” he said. “The non conference schedule has been pretty hard for us. We’ve had to travel a lot, and we’ve definitely played some tough games. Every time we’ve played a bad match, the girls come back out and work to make things better and to improve. That ability to continue to evaluate their play and bounce back from mistakes is what I really appreciate. If you can do that for long enough, you are really going to have a chance.”
The Bulldogs will next be in action this Friday, Sept. 28 in Johnson City, Tennessee against the Bucs of ETSU. The Bulldogs will return home on October 5 to take on Mercer in a match that is set for a 7p.m. (CST) start time in the Pete Hanna Center.