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Oct. 2, 2003

Columbia, S.C.- With a new look, the Gamecock volleyball team has a large group of fresh faces this season and at the center of it all is freshman setter Katelyn Panzau. A five-time all-state selection from Belleville, Ill., Panzau and the rest of the Gamecocks are entering the thick of their Southeastern Conference schedule as they face two SEC Western Division foes in Ole Miss and Mississippi State this weekend. Carolina (7-7, 1-1 SEC) enters the conference schedule coming off one of the toughest non-conference schedules in school history this season.

“Playing this tough of a schedule, especially early on, is exciting,” Panzau said. “It was very frustrating at first because we are very young and we were facing the best in the nation but it was so much fun because this team is so competitive. Our team is always looking to go after anything and everything and we don’t like to lose.”

The Gamecocks wrapped up the early portion of their non-conference schedule with a record of 6-6, facing six ranked teams along the way.

“We had a pretty tough preseason, facing some tough teams while still trying to adjust,” Panzau said. USC went 2-4 against ranked teams, with big upset victories over then-ranked No. 17 North Carolina at home and then-ranked No. 15 Notre Dame in South Bend.

However, facing the nation’s top teams hasn’t necessarily been the toughest adjustment Panzau has had to make. The transition from high school to a university 733 miles from home isn’t the easiest journey a person can make.

“The toughest adjustment has been the fact that I came down here not really knowing anybody,” said Panzau. “I kind of get lonely because I don’t know a lot of people – other than my teammates – and since we’re in season right now it’s tough to go out and do much. I don’t have the comfortable surroundings that I had back home.”

“It’s hard to manage time with volleyball and academics and that has certainly been a challenge,” Panzau continued. “Volleyball takes so much time and I’m trying my best to be responsible and keep up with all of my class work, but it is definitely a challenge.”

Many northerners that relocate to the south experience a bit of a culture shock as the way of life tends to be different. Don’t be mistaken, Panzau may be from the north but loves the climate of the south.

“It’s really slow down here,” said Panzau. “People are a lot different than from up north. During the wintertime down here if it snows, everything shuts down and I kind of like that because I don’t like snow. People are more outspoken in the north and down here they are just more laid back.”

Panzau also seems to have a sweet tooth for sweet tea.

“I love sweet tea!” exclaimed Panzau. “It’s not as good up north. One of the things I was most excited about coming down to South Carolina for was the sweet tea.”

Look for Panzau and the rest of the Gamecocks this weekend as they face the Rebels of Ole Miss Friday at 7 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility. The Garnet and Black take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.