App State to host 2020 championships

Emma Reilly will be a senior with the Appalachian State volleyball team, which will host the Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championships in 2020.

NEW ORLEANS — The Sun Belt Conference announced June 7 that Appalachian State would host the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championship Tournament.

The tournament will be held in the Holmes Center where the Mountaineers play their home matches.

“We wanted to host the 2019 but Texas State got that one,” App State coach Matt Ginipro said. “When the bidding process came out again, I asked (Appalachian State Athletic Director) Doug (Gillin) if we could put in another bid to host in 2020, so we’re pretty fired up that we got it.”

Ginipro found out about hosting the tournament June 4 and told the players, who he said were excited about the news.

“It’s good,” Ginipro said. “Any time you get to host a championship, it’s a huge advantage. We have to make sure we take full advantage of it.”

Appalachian State hosted the Southern Conference Tournament two times. The first was in 2006, which was won by College of Charleston. The second tournament App State hosted was in 2011 when Georgia Southern walked away with the title.

Ginipro hopes that hosting in 2020 will give the Mountaineers a home-court advantage by allowing the players more rest time that other teams, who will likely be flying to North Carolina and then bussing to Boone.

“You might be playing on a Sunday on that last game of the (regular) season, and the tournament, technically starts Wednesday,” Ginipro said. “You don’t have to deal with any travel. You can sleep in your own bed. You can practice in your facility. It’s just a huge advantage.”

Appalachian State finished 22-9 overall in 2018, 13-3 in the Sun Belt and 9-3 at home. Appalachian State beat Arkansas State in the first round of the 2018 tournament in Atlanta, but lost to Texas State in the next round. App State played in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, but lost to Radford in the first round at Clemson.

The Mountaineers will have an experienced roster going into the 2020 season. Appalachian State loses just two seniors — backline player Sydney Farthing and outside hitter Emma Longley — from its 2019 roster. Outside hitters Grace Morrison, Lexi Kohut, libero Emma Reilly and middle blocker Kara Spicer are juniors this season.

The Mountaineers will also have six sophomores on their 2019 roster.

“We’ll have a ton of experience because all four of (the juniors) have been playing since they were freshmen,” Ginipro said of his junior class. “We’ll have a pretty veteran squad.”

The volleyball tournament will be the latest championship App State will host. Appalachian State is hosting the 2019 men’s soccer tournament at Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex and the 2019 Southern Conference wrestling championships were held at the Holmes Center in March.

Appalachian State also hosted the 2018 football championship game by winning the Sun Belt’s East Division. The Mountaineers best Louisiana, the West Division champion, 30-19 on Dec. 1.

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