Aug. 28, 2003
The 2003 Georgia Tech volleyball team, ranked 12th in the AVCA/USA Today Preseason Coaches poll, begins the season by hosting the annual Courtyard by Marriott Classic this weekend in O’Keefe Gymnasium. The Yellow Jackets will face Northwestern Friday at 7:30 p.m., Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 12 p.m., and Alabama at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
“Like every team starting to play this weekend, there is a ton of excitement,” said head coach Bond Shymansky, who begins his second season as the head coach at Georgia Tech. “I think the biggest difference for us is that we are no longer the type of team going into the first weekend of the season saying ‘we’ll see what happens’, we are going into the first weekend saying ‘we’re going to show them what is going to happen’ and it’s a completely different mindset.”
Tech opens the tournament against Northwestern, an NCAA Tournament participant in 2002. The match marks the first contest between the two teams.
“Northwestern has the premier middle blocker in the Big 10 in Erika Lange,” said Shymansky. “She is going to be a lot of work for us to contain, and quite frankly, we may not even be able to contain her. The question we’ll have to answer is if our six players on the court outplay their six players on the court’. They are going to give us everything that we can handle.”
On Saturday, the Jackets will face Coastal Carolina at 12 p.m. The two teams have faced one another eight times in school history, with Tech holding a 7-1 edge in the series.
The Jackets’ will face Alabama in the final match of the tournament on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m.. Last season, Tech came from behind to defeat the Crimson Tide in a five-game thriller in O’Keefe Gymnasium. The match will be regionally televised by Fox Sports Net South on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. Several exciting promotions are scheduled, including the opportunity to win two tickets to the sold-out Georgia Tech/Auburn football game on Sept. 6.
“I definitely think Alabama will come at us on Saturday and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t,” said Shymansky. “They had us dead to rights last year and in some ways we snuck away with a victory. They are a good team that is very explosive and they are an excellent serving team, which makes teams perform poorly sometimes and we’ll have to step up to the challenge that they will present us.”
Tech returns every starter to its lineup, including all-American outside hitter Lynnette Moster (Liberty, Ind.) and all-Atlantic Coast Conference performers Kele Eveland (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Alexandra Preiss (Berlin, Germany). Also returning are Jayme Gergen (Topeka, Kansas), who led the ACC in blocks per game last season (1.21), Lauren Sauer (Huntsville, Ala.), who finished second on the team in kills in 2002 with 484, Laura Kuhn (Tiffin, Ohio), who was fourth on the team in hitting percentage (.277) a year ago, Marisa Aston (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who last year led the team with 444 digs, Keight Vincent (Atlanta, Ga.), who recorded 367 digs last year, and Jennifer Randall (Long Beach, Calif.) who played in every match for the Jackets last season.
The Jackets are coming off of the most successful season in school history in which they compiled a school-record 33 wins, won the ACC Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Playing at home gives us an opportunity to start off on the right foot,” said Shymansky. “There is obviously more work to be done and preparation needed for our players and staff, but you can’t beat the environment of our gym. We have such a huge advantage playing at home, and I think it’s going to help us because there are obviously going to be some kinks and some rough edges and I think our home crowd will help take those out.”
All three Georgia Tech matches can be heard on WREK radio on 91.1 FM and in streaming audio over the internet at www.wrek.org. In addition, fans may watch live stats of the matches by logging onto www.ramblinwreck.com
Georgia Tech Courtyard by Marriott Classic ScheduleFriday, Aug. 29Coastal Carolina vs. Alabama 5 p.m.Northwestern vs. Georgia Tech 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 30 GT vs Coastal Carolina 12 p.m. Northwestern v Alabama 2 p.m. Northwestern v Coastal Carolina 5 p.m. GT vs Alabama 7:30 p.m.