Lady Panthers freshmen find footing on court, win over App State

Learning on the job is not always easy, but sometimes, the experience leads to a fantastic feeling. The 4-9 Lady Panthers are continuing to find their footing this season, but this past weekend saw them pick up their second straight win of the season.

The Lady Panthers volleyball team felt the thrill of victory as Georgia State won two out of three in the weekend series against Appalachian State. The freshmen made their mark in all three games, starting with the 3-1 loss on Friday.

Though the freshmen had big games, the stalwart leader up front was still senior Jordan Shoemaker. The senior had 38 assists in total, making this the sixth time she recorded 20-plus sets in a match this season.

Shoemaker also provided opportunities for her teammates to have double-digit kills. Senior Meisheia Griffin had 12 kills while Leah Wilcox had 10. The most kills resided with Clara Bednarek as the freshman had 13 in total for the first game.

Defensively, freshman Ava Vlkovic became the first Panther to pass the 100 dig mark this year. She ended up with 119 digs thanks to her career-high 27 dig effort.

The Lady Panthers dropped game one on Friday, but Saturday’s match was a completely different story.

Starting with game one at 11 a.m., the Lady Panthers came out stronger, starting the day off with five straight points before the Mountaineers tied the game at eight points. Though App State kept the first set close, freshman Erin Wyatt was able to seal the deal with a kill.

App State controlled the second set, as the Georgia State offense struggled to find its rhythm. After the second set, Georgia State never looked back. They closed out the third and fourth sets en route and rode Shoemaker’s performance, capped by a game-winning kill, to a win.

Tied 1-1 in the series with the deciding game starting at 6 p.m., the Lady Panthers wasted no time peeling off to a 2-0 set lead. That lead came from Bednarek and Wyatt’s furious plays as the freshmen left App State reeling all weekend. 

Bednarek’s weekend was likely one she will not forget as she amassed 33 kills over eight sets of play, leading to her third consecutive double-digit kill performance.

While scorers may get the glory, defense is the backbone of any good performance, and libero Ava Vlkovic was stout all weekend. On Saturday, she ended the day with 41 digs, 19 in the first game and 22 in the second as she foiled the Mountaineer offense continuously.

With seven freshmen on the team, the season is expected to come across a learning curve. It was inevitable, but this was a series that showed just how good the team could be for the future.

After overcoming adversity on Friday, getting a win on the road provided an excellent experience for the freshmen, benefitting the entire team as the Sun Belt Conference tournament steadily approaches.

Fresh off the weekend, Georgia State will take the three-hour trip down south to Statesboro to face the Georgia Southern Eagles next weekend. The in-state rivalry will definitely bring out the best of the Lady Panthers’ freshman and the team as a whole. The Eagles will enter the weekend on a three-match losing streak, but homecourt advantage may help them out.