Despite not having played a single game in program history, the brand new Santa Fe College volleyball team opens up its first season ranked ninth in the FCSAA preseason poll as tonight they host Pasco-Hernando State College. The Saints are coached by Nick Cheronis, who formerly served under UF head coach Mary Wise as an assistant for 18 years. Although he is wary of such a high ranking in the polls, Cheronis says he likes where his athletes are at mentally.
“They have outstanding character and they’re all trying to do the right thing,” says Cheronis. “They’re all trying to make themselves better every day, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
The Saints roster features five players from local area high schools: Mersedes Bowers of Gainesville High, Ann-Lorrayne Bzoch and Farah Rajaee from St. Francis, Chelsea Dola from Williston and Julie Fuchs of Buchholz. That alone should a draw a crowd, but Cheronis thinks fans will attend regardless to take in some high-quality volleyball.
“There aren’t very many opportunities to see a brand new program,” says Cheronis. “If you want to see some history made and you can say ‘I was there,’ this is your opportunity.”
A tailgate for students and other fans will take place at 5:30 p.m. in front of Santa Fe Gym, with first serve at 7.