Josie Howell, Sports Editor
For the first time ever, the Ohio Valley Conference has added beach volleyball as one of their championship sports.
Jacksonville State University’s beach volleyball will be one of the first teams to play in the conference this upcoming 2020 season. On Friday, January 3, Jax State finally released their much-anticipated schedule for this historic season.
The Gamecocks will begin their season by playing OVC rival UT Chattanooga on March 20. This game will be hosted by Jacksonville State at the newly built South Beach Volleyball Bar and Grill in Anniston.
The Gamecocks will also be going up against some of their usual rivals throughout the season such as Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay, UT Martin and Morehead State. Jax State will also be going head-to-head against long-time Jacksonville State rival, the University of North Alabama.
JSU will appear in three different tournaments throughout its season. These tournaments include the Austin Peay Tournament in Clarkesville, Tenn., the Coastal Carolina Tournament, in Conway, S.C., and the OVC Weekend at South Beach Volleyball Bar and Grill in Anniston.
Players like Kaylie Milton and Lena Kindermann not only played an integral role in last year’s beach volleyball Atlantic Sun Conference, but they also just returned from playing a big role in becoming OVC Champions in Jax State’s regular season volleyball. Kindermann led her team in kills this past fall with a total of 367 kills with Milton following closely behind with 300 kills.
Kindermann and Maddie Cloutier will be the two key players to keep an eye out for in the 2020 season. The dynamic duo recorded a program-best of seven set wins in the 2019 beach volleyball season.
Cloutier currently has a career high of 15 set wins, right behind Shayla Schmidt, another key player to be on the lookout for, who has 18 career wins. Cloutier and Schmidt also played an integral role in JSU’s regular OVC Championship volleyball season.
Cloutier played in the 2019 regular season as a defensive specialist bringing in 103 digs overall for the Gamecocks, while Schmidt brought in over 100 kills as an outside hitter for the Gamecocks, despite being out for half of the season due to an injury.
Jacksonville State will kick-off its season with the red and white exhibition game on Tuesday March 3. The rival team is to be determined. After the exhibition game, the Gamecocks will officially begin their season.