By Parris Clarke, Assistant Sports Editor-
Last weekend, the Lady Mocs beach volleyball team competed in its first-ever conference action where they earned the university’s first-ever Ohio Valley Conference victory. Games were held at Jacksonville State University and were host to a number of different schools, including Morehead State, Austin Peay, UT Martin, and Eastern Kentucky.
Most of UTC’s sports teams participate in the Southern Conference, but due to technicalities, the beach volleyball team resides in the OVC. The outing over the weekend was the inaugural “OVC weekend” that kicks off conference play each year.
In addition to securing their first conference victory, the Lady Mocs had a stellar weekend going 3-1 across all games. The team’s inspired play earned senior Baylee Young and freshmen Jordan Krege OVC Pair of the Week honors.
Seemingly every time the team sets up behind the net they are accomplishing a first. This is the first full beach volleyball season in UTC’s history. Last season was the true inaugural season, but it was cut short due to pandemic-related concerns. So, this season’s win against Carson-Newman earlier this year was a first, last weekend’s conference victories were a first, and these weekly accolades are a first.
It’s a testament to the players’ perseverance that during their first real season they’ve positioned themselves as the league’s second-best team all while dealing with COVID-19 protocols.
Beach volleyball will continue its surprising season this Thursday with two games at home against Jacksonville State. Two days later they’ll head to Eastern Kentucky, where they’ll rematch Morehead State, Austin Peay, UT Martin, and Eastern Kentucky, all before beginning the OVC Championships, which start on April 29th.
This has been a season of firsts for the Lady Mocs beach volleyball team. Cementing that season of firsts with a league championship isn’t out of the realm of possibility.