The Augusta University volleyball team had a season of firsts this year. After years of teetering at the eighth seed in the NCAA southeast Region rankings, they secured their first Peach Belt Conference Championship and advanced to the regional tournament for the second time in four years.
“Not only did we win the Conference, but we were ranked third in the regional rankings” said Sharon Quarles, head volleyball coach. “Without a doubt, we were heading to regionals. Between that and the conference championship, it was just an awesome season.”
The PBC championship win was historic. For the first time, the Augusta University women’s volleyball team won the Championship.
“We faced off with Georgia College, a team we lost to twice during regular season,” Quarles said. “When the last point was awarded and we realized we were getting a banner against a team that we battled and struggled against during the regular season, it was poetic.”
Two of the most influential players at the conference tournament were senior McKenzey Beck and sophomore Chloe Allen. Beck has been on the team for two years after transferring in as a junior for the 2017 season. Beck posted 10 triple-doubles on the season to tie for the second most in all of NCAA Division II.
“Beck is an all-around player,” Quarles said. “She is not only a solid setter, but she is a consistent right-side attacker. She has been a dynamic leader on the floor for the Jaguars these past two years.”
“Allen is only a sophomore,” Quarles said. “She is strong all the way across the board. She’s one of those players who can play in all six rotations on the court and that speaks volumes to a person of her caliber.”
In the first round of regionals, the Jags faced off against Georgia College once again…for the fourth time. Regionals has a “one and done” rule, where a team is automatically out at their first loss.
“It was exciting to be at regionals again.” Quarles said. “But, no matter how you slice it, playing a team four times is hard. It was a hard loss. The team dropped the match to Georgia College in four sets.”
This season, the volleyball team ended the season with a 24-8 record and a No. 3 regional ranking and the number 3 seed in the region.
“When you look at our schedule, we never had a match that was an easy match,” Quarles said. “Our schedule was competitive from start to finish.”
Quarles made a special point of singling out the team’s seniors: Natalia Gouveia, Savanna Gonzalez, Blair Bolton and McKenzey Beck.
“They were the backbone of the team this year and they will be truly missed. They have definitely left their mark on the program,” she said. “Natalia is a junior college transfer who plays defensive specialist — she’s a lefty outside attacker that we moved to strictly back row this year. She provided consistent defense and serve receive. Savanna stepped into the role of a six rotation outside hitter for us this season, and Blair, a lefty right-side attacker, provided some solid performances in matches with her attacks and blocks at the net.”
Overall, Quarles and the team are satisfied about this season and all that it will bring, not only to the program, but to the school as well.
“We are truly appreciative for all the love and support we’ve received,” Quarles said. “I love the excitement coming from the school and to see people support what the girls did this season and what the future holds for Jaguar volleyball is pretty exciting.”