“We refuse to have the rebuild philosophy. We have a reload philosophy.”
That's what Coastal Carolina assistant coach CJ Allard had to say after the Chanticleers dominated Appalachian State in a 3-1 win last week.
Reloading is exactly what the Chanticleers are doing on the court as the team is 18-4 this year. Twenty games into the season last year, the Chanticleers were 9-11 and 8-4 in Sun Belt play.
The team is off to the best start in program history and could surpass 30 wins in a single season for the first time should they have a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
So what has changed? While recent years have shown the Chanticleers to be a dominant force on the court, last season felt like such a setback that left fans questioning what 2019 was going to look like.
“We refuse to accept mediocrity,” Allard said. “And that is visible in our practices and you see it in our matches, especially on the road.”
The Chanticleers have only played three home games this season. CCU was supposed to host the Coastal Carolina Classic in September but the event was moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, due to Hurricane Dorian. That means 85 percent of their games have been on the road, either at Sun Belt opponents or neutral sites.
The Chants are 15-2 in road/neutral site games this season, with those two losses going to a fifth set.
“Our team embraces the road game atmosphere,” Allard said. “A lot of teams fall on the road because it’s hotels, it’s a lot of travel and it’s missing school. That’s not the case with this group.”
After resounding success throughout the year and such few games at home, when the Chanticleers took the court on Oct. 16 to face App State in the HTC Center, there was a crowd of 1,757 people – a record for a CCU volleyball game.
“Since I have been here, I have never seen a crowd like this for volleyball,” said junior outside hitter Kyla Manning. “It means so much that the Conway, Myrtle Beach area believes in us so much that they come watch us play. It gives me chills to see the support and we are very lucky to have these fans.”
Even the coaches were impressed with the size of the crowd that would be typical at a Big 12 or Big 10 volleyball match.
“I thought it was graduation,” Allard said. “The support that Coastal showed today, including the Grand Strand community and the amount of young kids that were here, was amazing to see.”
Many local volleyball programs were in the attendance on the Oct. 16 match versus App State and Allard said having the local youth come to matches allows them to find new role models to look up to.
“Not only are our girls incredible volleyball players, they are incredible human beings,” Allard said. “This team celebrated a 3.61 GPA last spring and it will be a lot higher after this semester, which is insane considering how much traveling we have done this season. This is a team that is never in trouble with anyone and they are the nicest group of young women in the world.”
Not only were local youth teams out in support last week, but several CCU athletic teams showed up as well, including baseball, football, lacrosse and softball.
“The student-athlete support was incredible tonight,” Allard said. “It’s like one big family. When you go to football games, you see student athletes. I love it because they sit together as a team. I wouldn’t call it team bonding but you do see them bonding when they celebrate their fellow Chanticleers doing big things on whatever playing field they’re playing on.”
After defeating App State on Oct. 18 in Boone, North Carolina, the Chanticleers suffered a minor setback, dropping back-to-back games for the first time since the end of last season.
The Chanticleers are now 8-2 in conference play, creating a three-way tie for first place in the Sun Belt East Division with Troy and South Alabama.
Coastal Carolina will have a chance to break up that three-way tie for first this upcoming weekend as the Chanticleers travel to South Alabama on Friday before facing off with Troy on Sunday.