Sept. 10, 2003
After climbing two spots in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll to No. 10, the Georgia Tech volleyball team will face three nationally-ranked opponents in the US Bank/Arby’s Inviational this weekend in Lincoln, Neb.
The Yellow Jackets (5-0) begin the tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. against No. 17 Michigan State. Tech will then face No. 13 Santa Clara Saturday at 1 p.m. followed by a 4 p.m. meeting Sunday against No. 5 Nebraska (6-0).
Livestats will be available for every match of the tournament at www.huskers.com.
“This weekend will be another great tournament preparing us for our conference schedule,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “We’ll face three tough nationally-ranked teams and I expect every match to be competitive, which should help prepare us for matches down the stretch of the season.”
Friday’s match against Michigan State (5-0) marks the second time the two teams have met. Last season, the Jackets defeated the Spartans in four games in the South Florida Invitational.
“I think that both teams feel like this match is a rematch since last year’s match was so competitive. But, anytime we get a chance to play a program that has a national tradition like Michigan State our team really wants to play their best against them, so I think it’s going to be a good situation for us.”
On Saturday, Santa Clara (5-1) and Tech will face one another for the first time in school history.
“We have never seen Santa Clara but do know that they have an all-American on their team in Becky Potter,” said Shymansky. “They are a team tends to be more dynamic offensively, similar to us, and we should match up well with them. That poses a unique challenge for us, but it will be for our team to look across the net and see a team a lot like ourselves.”
The Jackets’ final match of the tournament will be against Nebraska (6-0), another team Tech has never faced.
“Nebraska is a young team who lost three all-Americans from last year’s team so they have a lot of questions marks this year,” said Shymansky. “They haven’t been tested much this year, and neither have we. I think there’s a lot of weaknesses that both team’s have that hopefully we will be able to exploit and that they won’t be able to.”
Tech is coming off of two tournament victories, having won the Courtyard by Marriott Invitational to start the season and last week’s Buckeye Classic.
Over the past two weeks, Tech’s offense has been virtually unstoppable. As a team, the Jackets are hitting .420, which currently ranks first in the nation. They are led by Jayme Gergen, who is tops in the nation hitting .525, Alexandra Preiss, who is ranked 12th in the nation with a .462 percentage, Lauren Sauer, who is 15th with a .444 average and Laura Kuhn who is 23rd nationally with a .431 hitting percentage. In addition, setter Kele Eveland leads the nation in assists per game (14.62) and leads an offense which is also ranked first in the nation in kills per game (18.56) and assists per game (17.11).
“Obviously, this weekend is going to be competitive and a chance for us to learn,” said Shymansky. “We want to learn where we are on a national scale, but at the same time we want to play our best against the best teams. We’ll find out quickly if our best is as good as the other teams best this weekend.”