Volleyball starts its fall season


The Maroon file photo

Matthew Richards, Asst Sports

The Loyola women’s volleyball team is setting the bar high for its players this 2022-2023 season.
Voted the top team in the Southern States Athletic Conference this preseason after claiming last year’s regular season conference title, the Wolf Pack is hoping to improve their 22-11 record from last season. The team was also ranked 31 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics preseason poll.
“Our goals going into the season are to continue achieving new heights like we’ve done for the past five seasons, to repeat as regular season conference champions and also win the conference tournament,” said Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Jesse Zabal.
Zabal collected a couple of personal awards last season as she was named Coach of the Year by both the SSAC and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
“It was a great honor to be named SSAC Coach of the Year,” Zabal said. “We have some very talented coaches in our conference, all coaching high level teams, so I’m grateful to have been chosen.”
Zabal nodded to Robert Pitre, the team’s assistant coach, for supporting her to be able to win the award. She said his time and effort was indispensable last season. In addition to Zabal’s recognition, the Wolf Pack return from the 2021-2022 season with the reigning SSAC Conference Player of the Year and NAIA All-American Honorable Mention, Junior Simone Tyson. Tyson led the team with 372 kills. Junior Emily Sheperis led the team with 105 blocks, and Senior Gracie Bailey led the team with 554 assists. The SSAC Co-Freshman of the Year was Simone Moreau, who additionally led the team with 458 digs.
“Our goal this year is to go farther than any other volleyball team in program history at Loyola and make it to the NAIA national tournament,” Tyson said “Personally, my goals are to lead my team on and off the court in any way that I can.”
Tyson said that her team has “great leaders” in Gracie Bailey and Brittany Cooper. She said that with them, she hopes to be a leader on the team. She also thanked her coaches, Zabal and Pitre, for receiving her player of the year award.
“It meant the world to me to be able to receive such a prestigious award and have all that hard work pay off,” Tyson said.
The team opened their 2022 season by going 3-1 at Keiser University’s Chick-fil-A Classic in West Palm Beach, Florida and will open conference play on Sept. 9 against Middle Georgia State University. They will return home Sept. 16 to face a new SSAC member, Life University.