September 27, 2002

Volleyball Hosts Cornell Invitational

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The volleyball team will have its home opener as it hosts its tournament in Newman Arena this today and tomorrow. The tournament will consist of five teams competing in a round robin setup. Among those competing in the tournament will be Tulsa (12-2, 0-0 WAC), Seton Hall (6-6, 0-0 Big East), Niagara (3-11, 0-0 MAAC), and Wyoming (11-2, 0-0 Mountain West). This marks a golden opportunity for the Red to improve its record and build up momentum as it heads into its league opener versus Columbia next week.

“Those four teams are coming out here, and I think they are all very comparable to what we need to do in the conference, maybe even a step up from our conference. We really need to play up, at a high pace,” commented head coach Christie Jackson.

The Red is coming off a respectable performance last weekend down at Georgia Tech. There the team competed in a tournament, finishing 1-2 overall with a victory over Florida International and tough losses to Georgia Tech and Alabama. All the teams that the squad faced in the tournament were powers in volleyball. Alabama and Florida International were both 20-game winners last year. Florida International made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The host, Georgia Tech, is currently ranked among the top 25 teams in the AVCA poll.

The teams the Red will be facing in this tournament are not quite as strong, though nonetheless still dangerous. Tulsa has won nine out of its last 10 matches and has already surpassed its win total of nine last year. A relatively young team, the Golden Hurricanes are led on offense by Dana Weddle, who is averaging 3.49 kills per game. Seton Hall is also on a streak. After starting the season 1-5, the Pirates have won five straight, not losing a single game during this stretch. Led by Jenn Meyers and Kari Belin up front and by Shawn MacDonald in the backcourt, their offense has been solid, averaging 15.14 kills per game and holding a .251 hitting percentage. Niagara started off the season relatively slow, but is currently riding a three-game skid. Michelle LeSouder, Erin Graham and Jennifer Hansford will direct the offense. Wyoming will meet Cornell for the first time, having posted a seven-game winning streak. The team looks much stronger than a year ago, when it went 9-15 overall. They will rely on Michele Rauter (4.00 kpg) and Sara Maytorena (3.73 kpg) for offense and Amy Doman (11.15 assists per game) to quarterback the team.

The Red will turn to senior Angela Barbera and junior Debbie Quibell on the outside. Quibell had an exceptionally strong performance last weekend, playing in her hometown. She recorded 25 kills in three games and received all tournament honors. Barbera also had a strong tournament, recording 30 kills overall. In the middle juniors Ashely Stover and Jamie Lugo will likely start. Stover, also playing near to where she grew up, had 21 kills during the tournament. Lugo played well defensively, recording six blocks against Florida International and seven against Alabama. Freshman Heather Young also played well during the tournament. Junior setter Rachel Rice, who recorded 58 assists combined during the tournament, will look to direct the offense. The Red will likely see play from all 13 of their players this weekend, given the nature of the tournament.

“We ended up playing a lot of the juniors and seniors last weekend. The teams we were playing last weekend ran formations and blocking schemes that many of the freshman were not familiar with, so we played more the juniors and seniors. This week it should be different,” said Jackson.

The Red have traditionally performed well at its own tournament and is in search of its eighth title. Cornell’s first game is Friday against Tulsa at 3 p.m.

Archived article by Chris Callanan