(CLEVELAND) – The Truett McConnell University women’s volleyball team is set to face Tennessee Wesleyan University for both their 2020 season and Appalachian Athletic Conference opener on Tuesday inside the TMU Volleyball/Wrestling Arena.

Last season, the Lady Bears recorded their first ever 18-win season, including 12 AAC wins, which is also the most ever to be recorded. TMU also made a strong run in the 2019 AAC tournament when they upset the No. 2 seed, Point University, to make it to the semifinals for the first time in program history.

“We have a great core group of returners that will help us start where we left off last season,” Head Coach Mark Corbin said. “This offseason, even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had a great recruiting season.  We have 16 new freshman on the team this season and I expect several of them to be key contributors and make an immediate impact to our program.”

Senior Abby Maxwell, an All-AAC first team member, is amongst the core group of returners for the Lady Bears. Maxwell, TMU’s record holder for most assists per game and total career assists, also earned a spot on the 2019 AVCA All-Region Team. Fellow senior Hannah Conners will also be returning for TMU and will look to build upon her 1,237 total career digs.

“We will look to Hannah and Max to be the leaders on our team,” Corbin said. “They have played important roles for the past three years and we will rely on their experience to help the younger players grow and acclimate to the college game quickly. This season is one for the history books in more than one way. Not only are we dealing with the current pandemic and working through all the protocol to make things work, but we have the opportunity to break more records this season as a team and individuals.”

Due to the AAC’s decision to make fall schedules strictly conference, the Lady Bears lost two tournaments, one in West Palm Beach, Florida, and seven other nonconference matchups.

“After a long offseason the team is very excited to get this season started,” Corbin said. “The returners got a taste of success last season and they are hungry to continue improving and guiding our team in the right direction. The incoming freshman have grasped that same attitude and have been working hard to prepare themselves for the competition they will face. I feel that this group of freshman are ready to jump in and fill the holes that we have from losing a few key players from last year.”

Tuesday’s match is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., with senior day planned on Saturday, Sept. 19, against Bryan College.

“I am very excited to see how this team blossoms this season,” Corbin said. “I believe we have a great group of young ladies who can do whatever they put their minds to do.  We made a statement in the conference last year with a huge improvement from years past and we hope to make an even bigger statement this season.”

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