Oct. 7—JACKSONVILLE — Practice was done Wednesday night, but not all the Jacksonville State volleyball players had cleared out of Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Erin Carmichael, the Gamecocks' libero, was fielding volleyballs hit like a bullet by assistant coach Jordan Coomes. Middle hitter Zoe Gonzales was still at the net pounding down kills.
Hey, not letting down paid off last week, so why not keep it going?
Jacksonville State played three matches at home a couple of weekends ago, including a five-set loss over North Florida on Saturday and a five-set win over Kennesaw State Sunday. There was little time to rest as JSU had to travel to Kentucky for a Friday afternoon match at Eastern Kentucky and a Saturday afternoon match at Bellarmine.
They didn't lose focus, winning both without dropping a set.
"One of the things we focus on a lot is playing one day at a time and giving our full effort every single day," JSU coach Todd Garvey said. "They're in great shape. They work really hard in practice every day, and I think that pays off when you have long matches. You recover quicker. You can't overlook anybody, especially on the road, so they were totally focused and played at a high level and played hard."
The practices went well last week for Jacksonville State.
"I think we really dialed in on everything we've been working on in practice, and we were really focused on the court and in all the practices leading up to it," JSU senior Addie Halverson said. "Our practices have been so good that we were able to put that into the game."
The two wins improved Jacksonville State to 14-4, including 4-1 in the ASUN heading into Friday's home match against North Alabama (6-12, 0-5). That's good for first place, just ahead of ASUN volleyball power Lipscomb, which is 3-1 in the league.
"I thought we played awesome," Carmichael said. "We played one point at a time. We really executed the scouting report that we do in the locker room before a game. We did really good on that. I think one thing that we're getting better at is stopping the runs and the unforced errors. I think that's a big part of going on a winning streak."
What to know
—Carmichael was named the ASUN's defensive player of the week Monday after producing 31 digs in the two weekend wins in Kentucky. Teammate Lexie Libs was player of the week Sept. 13, and Brooklyn Schiffli was freshman of the week Aug. 30.
—Gonzales leads the ASUN with a .411 hitting percentage, and Lena Kindermann is fourth at .330. Lexie Libs is first in assists per set at 10.37. Kindermann is third in kills per set at 3.52.
—Halverson on the support that each player gives to the others: "Everyone on our team has the best chemistry and we're all best friends, so no matter who's on the court, we're so happy for them. We all go through this together every day. We all practice together. We go do weights in the mornings. We all do it together, so we know how it feels to do well. Everybody has each other's back, so it's really nice. Good chemistry."
—Carmichael on her ASUN honor: "It felt awesome. Being in a new conference and being a libero, so I really felt appreciated."
—Garvey on Carmichael's award: "It was awesome. The last couple of years, Lena (Kindermann) has gotten a lot of credit, and Lexie (Libs). It's well deserved for those two, but it's awesome to see some other people get some credit, too. I think Erin has been a big part of this team for the past three years, and it's kind of gone unnoticed by some people, so I think for her to get that recognition was awesome as a coach. For her to put in all the work she does behind the scenes, it's great to see people who work hard get rewarded.
—JSU will host North Alabama on Friday at 6 p.m. After that, JSU will play Lipscomb on Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. and Central Arkansas on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. Those matches are Friday and Saturday, and both are at home. It's on a weekend in which the JSU football team is off.
Senior Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.