CONWAY — Big changes are happening within the Coastal Carolina volleyball program.
With the addition of a new, state-of-the-art volleyball stadium, a few new names on the roster and a new coach charged with righting the ship and leading the Chants to a Big South title, expectations are high.
When Jozsef Foreman assumed the task of turning Coastal’s volleyball program around, average wasn’t on the docket.
“Every year I want to be champion, [no matter] what,” Foreman said after his team’s three-game (25-22, 25-16, 25-13) non-conference loss to South Carolina on Tuesday night. “We started the preseason; we lost some games and ended up 3-9, but now we’re leading the conference.”
The players felt Foreman’s influence quickly. So far, he has led Coastal (7-11 overall, 5-2 Big South) to a three-way tie with Liberty and Presbyterian atop the conference standings.
“I think that he brought in a lot of energy to our program, and he’s very strict on us, really tough on us,” Junior outside hitter Meghan Laffin said. “We know we have to play at a higher level and he’s holding us to a higher standard, holding us more accountable for our mistakes, and I think our improvement shows that.”
Junior middle blocker Kindra Bailey – who was named Big South player of the week on Monday – is noticing big changes – within and outside the program.
“I definitely feel like this year Coastal’s school spirit as a whole has gone up totally and I think our attendance even at this game shows that the fans are more into it definitely,” Bailey said. “I think we have more resources this year than we’ve ever had.”
The fan support has helped, Laffin said.
“I think it’s so exciting,” she said. “I know our first game we had over 1,000 people attend and we were just so excited and we did so much to try and advertise and tell all of our friends about it.
“We had a lot of family come out and support, and I just think the new building in and of itself is just so beautiful and we’re so blessed and we know how lucky we are coming from Kimbel [Arena], where it was small; this is just so much bigger and we just feel like more of a significant program.”
And the players feel an obligation to uphold that reputation.
“I think more than ever we all have a focus of always trying to be better not just as a team but individually,” Bailey said. “Every practice is always based off of what we need to work on for the last game so it’s never the same and we’re always growing.”
While Foreman has instituted some new philosophies, it still comes down to getting the best out of each individual player.
“I don’t want to change the skills. I don’t want to change everything,” Foreman said. “I pay attention to the players’ strengths and weaknesses and I try to help rather than changing everything.”
So far, so good. But don’t expect the Chants to become complacent.
“And we’re never satisfied either,” Laffin said. “We may be first in the Big South right now, but we really wanted to beat USC tonight and really play at a higher level, so we’re definitely not going to be satisfied until we’re playing at the level we want to be playing at.”
Contact JOSH BELL at 626-0385.