Francis Marion University’s volleyball team is suiting up for a brand new season. With the new additions to the team and coaching staff, the team feels confident about its chances.
Paul McDonald, the head coach for the volleyball team, is starting his seventh year with FMU. He is excited to not only be introducing four new players to the team, but also a new graduate assistant coach.
“We have a new assistant coach, Carly Swisher, who will be joining the good side this year,” McDonald said.
Carly Swisher is a recent graduate from Carson-Newman College; she previously played against FMU.
“I am very excited for this upcoming season,” Swisher said. “I don’t know if there is a good side or a bad side, but there is a player’s side and a coach’s side, and it’s going to be a whole new dynamic for me.”
Swisher is hoping to bring a new perspective to the team.
“I have been in their position,” Swisher said. “I know what it is like playing on the court, but now I am not just a teammate, I am someone who can give them direction on what they need to work on and improve.”
Swisher said that she has no real worries for the upcoming season, just excitement and enthusiasm.
Swisher is not the only newcomer to FMU; there are also four new players joining the team: Jessica Imbimbo, Kailey Smith, Alexzandra Reed, and Shelby Jones.
Imbimbo is junior transfer student from Pasco-Hernando Community College. She will be playing as an outside hitter. McDonald describes Imbimbo as a girl who is full of energy and will be a positive influence on the team.
Smith, a junior, and Jones, a sophomore, join Imbimbo on the team this season. Smith and Jones are transfer students from Arizona Western College. Smith will accompany returning player Sloane Shank as a setter, and Jones will be playing the position of outside hitter.
Reed, a freshman from Corona, California, will play middle blocker.
This season will also get an appearance from Brianna West. West joined the team in January, and this will be her first playing season with the Patriots.
Pre-season begins August 13 for the FMU volleyball team. Their first game, which is part of a tournament held at FMU, will be played on August 31 and September 1.
Other important dates that McDonald would like students to remember are September 18, the rivalry game against Coker College, and October 23, the match against Martin College.
The match against Martin College is the FMU “Think Pink” game. Both teams will play in pink to raise breast cancer awareness. FMU will be raising money for the “Side-Out Foundation” and the theme for the game will be “Dig Pink”.
“We hope that students will come out and support our efforts to raise awareness,” McDonald said.
Last season the FMU volleyball team ended their season with a record of 12-18. FMU won 4 of the 14 conference games.
“The Conference is the same as last year,” McDonald said. “Armstrong and Flagler will be out toughest opponents.”
Swisher agrees with McDonald, but has no doubt that FMU can succeed in winning.
“The Peach Belt Conference is a strong one, but we can take it all the way,” Swisher said.
McDonald would also like students to know that their participation in all the games would be greatly appreciated.
“I want all the students to know that admission to the games is free,” McDonald said. “We want to hear noise in the stands.”