Cavaliers Open Season at Texas A&M Invitational
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team will open its 2009 campaign this weekend at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas. The Cavaliers will open on Friday against Northern Iowa at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time before taking on the host Aggies at 7:30 p.m. Virginia will conclude the tournament with a contest on Saturday against Iona at 11 a.m. Live stats will be available on VirginiaSports.com for all matches.
The Cavaliers have only faced Northern Iowa and Texas A&M once before, while UVa and Iona have never met on the volleyball court. None of the current Cavaliers have faced any of this weekend’s competition either. Virginia defeated Northern Iowa, 3-2, on Sept. 4, 1992 in Syracuse, N.Y., and lost to then-No. 16 Texas A&M, 0-3, on Sept. 3, 2005.
All four teams bring a 0-0 record to the tournament.
Following the weekend, the Cavaliers will return home to host the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup on Sept 4-5 in Memorial Gymnasium. In-state rival VCU, Campbell and NC Central will visit Charlottesville for the two-day tournament.
- The outside hitters will be anchored by fourth-year Lauren Dickson. The team leader in kills for the past two seasons, Dickson is once again expected to be a force up front. She knocked down 307 kills to go with 324 digs and served up 37 aces, ranking fifth in the conference last year.
- Second-year Simone Asque, a Preseason All-ACC candidate, should also be an impact player, providing a one-two punch for the Cavaliers from the outside. Asque started 20 matches and tallied 146 kills on the season, earning herself a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team.
- Second-year Tess Udall will also be in the mix to help add some depth to the outside hitters. Udall, primarily a middle blocker last season, played in nine matches, landing two kills and collecting two blocks.
- From the right side, third-year Kendahl Voelker returns as the team’s most efficient attacker. Hitting .221, Voelker landed 217 kills and collected 91 blocks last season.
- Third-year Sydney Hill returns after starting all 32 matches for the squad last season. Finishing the year first on the team and fifth in the ACC with 131 total blocks, Hill is expected to anchor the middle blockers this season.
- Alongside Hill will be second-year Hillary Trebels and newcomers Tobi Farrar and Jessica O’Shoney.
- Trebels saw action in 13 matches last season, collecting seven blocks, while Farrar and O’Shoney were two of the top middle blocker prospects in the country.
- Farrar and O’Shoney were the first two recruits of head coach Lee Maes’ inaugural recruiting class that was recently ranked No. 15 in the nation. Both are very skilled and athletic players who will add another dimension to the program with their presence and physical abilities.
- Fourth-year Brittani Rendina returns to lead the squad in defense after starting every match last season at libero. In addition to leading the team in digs, Rendina ranked ninth in the ACC in digs per set, as she dug 516 attacks.
- Also returning to the back row is defensive specialist A.J. Cushman. The third-year played in all 32 matches last season, recording her 500th-career dig in the season finale against Virginia Tech. Also contributing from the end line, Cushman’s 32 service aces earned her the 10th spot in the ACC.
- With the loss of two setters from last year’s squad, the Cavaliers have to quickly adjust to two new setters. A familiar face, fourth-year Tara Hester has made the transition from outside hitter to setter, while Rachel Gray, coming off a successful high school career, will be expected to contribute right away.