Coley Birchfield, Correspondent
Jacksonville State University athletics returned to Pete Mathews Coliseum this weekend as volleyball hosted the Gamecock Classic to begin their 2021 regular season.
Gardner-Webb (2-1), Alabama State, and Middle Tennessee State joined the Gamecocks for a quad match competition.
The Gamecocks (3-0) began their season on Friday with a mid-day victory (25-10, 25-22, 25-22) over Gardner-Webb to go along with a nightcap win (25-14, 25-16, 25-22) versus Alabama State.
On Saturday night, the Gamecocks returned to the court for the finale against Middle Tennessee State. However, the starting lineup looked different as senior Katie Montgomery joined Erin Carmichael on the sidelines. Both who are nursing injuries, Carmichael’s of which has been impacting her availability since before this weekend.
Nonetheless, the Gamecocks rolled to an impressive sweep (25-12, 25-22, 25-14) of the Blue Raiders.
“I thought we played our best volleyball of the year against Gardner-Webb”, said JSU Head Coach Todd Garvey on Friday night, “I’m really happy with where we were at.”
Lena Kinderman did not miss a beat in her season debut as she once again impressed with a total of 28 kills between the three matches, including a team-high 14 against MTSU. Lexie Libs, who was among the national leaders in assists during the 2020 season, tallied 72 assists on the weekend.
It is important to note that many of the Gamecock starters, including Kinderman and Libs, did not play in the third set of many of the contests.
“It’s really special because our team is so diverse and so deep in so many positions,” Junior Kylee Quigley told the Anniston Star, “everyone is ready from one to how-ever-many-there-are on the roster.”
Although the Gamecocks return nearly their entire starting rotation from the 2020 season, that depth will be crucial as the season moves forward. Having the ability to sit key contributors for your team and close out contests is a luxury a limited number of teams have in the NCAA.
This season JSU is seeking its second-straight volleyball conference championship, this time in the Atlantic-Sun Conference. The Gamecocks and their athletic department approved the move to the A-SUN beginning in the 2021 competition year. JSU will face rivals such as Kennesaw State and North Alabama, along with new opponents like Florida Gulf Coast and Lipscomb.
Jacksonville State returns to competition at “The Pete” on Tuesday evening, as the UT-Chattanooga Mocs come to town. The match is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.