ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team will wrap up nearly three weeks of preseason workouts when the Trojans open the regular season with four matches at the Coker/Francis Marion Fall Invitational, Friday and Saturday at FMU's Smith University Center and the Cobras' DeLoach Center.
This weekend's appearance in the Palmetto State's Low Country marks the beginning of a nine-match season-opening road swing for reigning South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year Todd Hay's Trojans.
In a unique format, the Trojans will play their first three matches at Francis Marion, including a pair of contests on Friday and one on Saturday, and will close out the two-day tourney with a match at Coker on Saturday afternoon.
Anderson opens this weekend's event by facing Indianapolis, Friday at 1 p.m., then squares off against the host Patriots at 7 p.m. AU will go up against Virginia Union at 11 a.m. on Saturday, then make the 25-mile trek from Florence, S.C., to Hartsville, S.C. to close out the tournament with a 3 p.m. matchup versus UNC Pembroke.
Admission is free to all matches played at Francis Marion.
Coker Ticket Information
Adults: $5 per day
Students with ID / Children (12 & under): $3 per day
Children (6 & under): free
Coker faculty, staff & students free with ID | CASH ONLY accepted at ticket window
Hay, in his second season at the helm of the Trojan program, has a roster that features nine returning letterwinners, including a trio of Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference honorees back from last season's record-setting 28-5 squad.
Conlin earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades at the conclusion of the 2017 campaign and captured All-Southeast Region honors from both the D2CCA and AVCA. She was also named First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference and garnered SAC All-Tournament accolades.
The Glendale, Ariz., native led the conference in both assists and assists per set and already ranks fifth in the school record books with 2,538 career assists after just two seasons. She dished out 40+ assists in 21 matches a year ago, including a season-high 58 against Augusta in early September. She stood fourth on the team and 21st in the SAC with 339 digs last season.
The versatile Knight started every match last season and was third on the team and 21st in the league with 249 kills, including a season-high 18 against Augusta. She reached double-figure kills on nine occasions and ranked fourth on the team and 17th in the conference with 25 aces. The Redlands, Calif., native was third on the team and 19th in the SAC last season with 350 digs.
Hughes recording 214 kills, while playing in 30 matches last season. A native of Chapin, S.C., Hughes posted a season-high 15 kills on a pair of occasions and reached double-figure kills in nine contests. She came up with 48 digs, including a season-high five on two occasions. Hughes was third on the team with 57 block assists, including a season-high four on three occasions.
The Greyhounds, who posted a 13-19 overall record a season ago, including an 8-10 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), were a preseason pick to finish eighth in the GLVC this season.
The Greyhounds finished eighth in the league a year ago and lost in the first round of the GLVC Tournament to nationally third-ranked and 10-time defending conference champion Lewis in UIndy's 18th consecutive trip to postseason play.
The Greyhounds have five newcomers on their roster this season, but return most of last season's squad, including junior outside hitter, Anna Fehribach, who led the team with 303 kills in 2017. Sophomore libero Olivia Martin is back after recording 522 digs a season ago.
The Series vs. UIndy
Friday afternoon's matchup marks the first meeting in school history between the two programs.
The Patriots, who went 9-18 a season ago and fell to Georgia College in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, were a preseason selection to finish sixth this season in the seven-team PBC Coaches' Poll.
FMU returned six letterwinners from last year, including three starters and the libero. Much like the Trojans, with six first-year players, FMU ranked as the second-youngest team in the Peach Belt Conference. A pair of seniors, outside hitter Georgia Garrison and setter Carrie McGinnis, are expected to lead the Patriots this season.
Garrison is a three-year starter who led the Patriots in kills per set, service aces, and reception percentage on her way to earning second-team All-Conference honors a year ago. Another three-year starter, McGinnis was FMU's leading passer in 2017, registering 7.16 assists per set, which rated fourth in the PBC. She also led the team in total assists (594).
The Series vs. Francis Marion
The contest will be just the fifth meeting between the Patriots and Trojans since the 2009 season, with Anderson holding a 3-1 advantage in the series. The Trojans blanked FMU in the "Play for the Cure" Tournament at Lander in 2009, knocked off the Patriots, 3-1, at the Abney Athletic Center during the 2011 campaign and swept FMU at USC Aiken's tournament in 2014. Francis Marion defeated AU, 3-1, in the Trojans last appearance at the Coker/FMU Tournament in 2016.
The Panthers, who were 15-11 last season and fell in the opening round of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament last season, were tabbed to finish eighth in the CIAA this season.
The Series vs. Virginia Union
Saturday morning's match will be just the second meeting in school history between the two programs and first since the 2004 season, when AU swept the Panthers in three sets.
The Braves were 7-26 overall a year ago, but were unable to capture a win in 12 regular-season conference matches and fell to USC Aiken in opening round of the PBC Tournament. UNCP was tabbed to finish seventh in the Preseason PBC Coaches' Poll, which was released earlier this week.
The Series vs. UNC Pembroke
Saturday afternoon's contest versus the Braves marks the third meeting between the two programs since the 2009 campaign, when the Trojans swept UNC Pembroke in the "Play for the Cure" Tournament, which was hosted by Lander. AU knocked off UNCP, 25-21, 25-18, 25-20, in the 2016 edition of the Coker/Francis Marion Tournament.