PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Coming off an NJCAA Tournament appearance in 2022, the Gulf Coast volleyball team enters this season as the No. 1 DII team in the state.

The Commodores finished last season at 23-4 and reached the NJCAA Tournament as the No. 13 seed.

This fall, the ‘Dores begin the regular season sitting atop the FCSAA Region 8 DII rankings.

Gulf Coast Head Volleyball Coach Scott Allen said he has very high expectations for his team this season.

“Our goals kind of going in order,” Allen said. “We want to win the conference, we want to go to the national championships. We want to be top four in the country every single year. We want to win a national championship. So we haven’t checked the box on those last couple of things, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

The Commodores will open their season at an opening weekend tournament in Rockford, Illinois, facing teams from Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Michigan.

Gulf Coast sophomore outside hitter Lauren Marien said the team is excited for the challenge.

“I think we’re very lucky with how it played out because most teams just kind of start off playing not even conference teams,” Marien said. “And so, it’s exciting to see us play at the high level right when it starts.”

The Commodores will open the season facing Kirkwood (IA) on Friday, August 18, at 9:00 a.m. CST.