The 2018 Georgia volleyball season will be the second under head coach Tom Black. The Bulldogs will look to continue growing this season following a successful 2017 campaign.
In Black’s first season as head coach, Georgia finished 22-12 and fifth in the SEC with a 10-8 conference record. The Bulldogs had one combined conference victory in the previous two seasons. Georgia returns five starters plus a libero in 2018. In all, 11 letterwinners return. Georgia will look to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013 this season.
On the first day of preseason practice, Black had this to say about his team’s hard work over the summer, “… I think they worked really hard over the summer. I’m saying that because they started at a really good point today, so you can’t do that unless they worked hard. That’s our impression and it was really good to see it actually happen on the court. I’m really pleased with where we’re starting and now it’s how good can we get.”
The squad features Preseason All-SEC outside hitter T’ara Ceasar and AVCA All-Southeast Region honorable mention setter Meghan Donovan. A strong sophomore class featuring Ceasar, Rachel Ritchie, and Kendall Glover look to help guide Georgia to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.
As a freshman, Ceasar was an All-SEC and All-Freshman Team pick, becoming the first All-SEC freshman Bulldog since Jasmine Eatmon in 2012. She became the first in Georgia history to receive seven SEC weekly honors in one season, breaking the previous record of two by a freshman Bulldog. Ceasar was named to the 2017 AVCA All-Southeast Region Team, finishing the season as the highest-ranked freshman nationally in kills (4.14) and points per set (4.79). The Panama City, Florida native played for the U.S. Collegiate National Team in China over the summer break.
The Georgia offense placed itself in the top four of every offensive category in the SEC a year ago, including hitting percentage, assists, kills, and service aces. The conference rankings featured Georgia at the top in service aces with a 1.57 average. The Bulldogs were fourth at .243 in hitting percentage. In kills, Georgia boasted a third-place position (13.75), fueled by Ceasar and Ritchie at third and fourth in the individual rankings. Donovan provided her own third-place spot with 10.95 assists per match, bringing Georgia to its fourth position as a team with 12.91 assists per set.
New to the roster in 2018 is a trio of true freshmen in middle blocker Sage Naves (Agoura Hills, Calif.), outside Kayla Rivera (Ventura, Calif.), and opposite Mallory Hernandez (Fishers, Ind.).
Entering the season, Georgia was chosen to finish fourth in the SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, garnering 105 points in the poll, tied with LSU.
The 29-match schedule will feature 12 contests in Athens, all set to be played in Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs will open the 2018 campaign in Athens Aug. 24-25 with the Benson Hospitality Invitational featuring Coastal Carolina, Furman, and Illinois State. SEC play begins at Stegeman on Sept. 21 when Georgia hosts LSU.
The 2018 schedule features four teams that finished in the AVCA final top 25: #2 Florida, #6 Kentucky, #19 Colorado, and #20 Missouri. Six teams on Georgia’s schedule competed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.