UWA volleyball looking to improve

Published 8:25 am Monday, August 12, 2013

LIVINGSTON – University of West Alabama head volleyball coach Jordan Lay already has his work cut out for him as he enters his first year for the Tigers. The team was selected as preseason sixth in the 2013 Gulf South Conference Coaches’ Poll after finishing 3-13 in the conference last season.

“Being picked last in the conference does put a little chip on our shoulder and that little motivation helps us,” said West Alabama head Volleyball coach Jordan Lay. “I like playing the underdog role. Everywhere I’ve ever been, coaching-wise, I’ve had to play that role. We will take the extra motivation.”

In addition to starting the season at the bottom of the ranks, the conference is projected to be even more competitive this season. West Florida, the five time defending conference champion, was selected unanimously as preseason No. 1. Christian Brothers earned the No. 2 spot after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time by upsetting the Argonauts in the first round.

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“West Florida is always a dominate force in the conference, but they are beatable; Christian Brothers showed that in the last season,” said Lay. “The GSC on a national level is pushing closer and closer to bringing back a national title.”

The new head coach will bring with him nine new faces to the program this season. Among them, freshmen Yanesha Johnson and Callie Murphy are already gaining recognition by being name to the conferences’ 2013 Top Newcomers List.

Johnson, a San Antonio, Texas native, will join the squad as an outside hitter, while Murphy, a native of Linden, Mich., will join as a setter.

“Callie and Yanesha are two of our top recruits, and we expect a lot of good things from them,” said Lay. “All of our newcomers are very athletic and are coming in ready compete immediately. They provide a wealth of depth for us and a new level of competitiveness. We are going to be very competitive in our gym at all times.”

West Alabama Volleyball will begin its season on the road at the West Georgia Tournament on Sept. 6. The Tigers will open their home schedule against Valdosta State on Sept. 24.

“It’s conference title or bust for us,” Lay said. “That is goal number one for us, and then we will advance from there.”