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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team will open its 2010 season this weekend at the Temple Invitational in Philadelphia, Pa. The Cavaliers will meet Valparaiso for the first match on Friday at 2 p.m., and will then play Delaware at 1 p.m. and host Temple at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Virginia, coming off a 12-19 season, returns nine letterwinners from last year’s roster and welcomes the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation to the squad. Preseason All-ACC honoree and junior Simone Asque returns as the team’s top attacker, as she ranked third in the league with 3.75 kills per set a year ago to earn all-conference honors. Defensively, senior AJ Cushman returns after leading the team with 389 digs, while sophomore Jess O’Shoney led the charge at the net with 86 blocks in 2009.

This weekend’s debut competition will mark the first time Virginia and Valparaiso have met on the volleyball court. The Crusaders are coming off a 22-11 season, where they finished in second place in the Horizon League. They also return the league’s 2009 Rookie of the Year, Taylor Root, who collected 586 digs last season.

Saturday’s first match pairs the Cavaliers against Delaware for the first time since 1997. In the last meeting, Virginia won, 3-0, at home, though Delaware leads the all time series, 4-3. Last season, the Blue Hens ended with a 21-8 record, which secured the team the Colonial Athletic Association regular season championship. Delaware will be led by 2009 CAA Setter of the Year, senior Jessica Chason, who notched a 10.20 assists-per-set average a season ago.

In the final match of the tournament, Virginia will face Temple for the seventh time in program history, with the Cavaliers holding a 6-1 edge against the Owls. Temple is coming off a 14-12 season last year and two of the Owls’ top hitters return, Jessica Antosz and Cayleigh Ashman. Each had over 140 kills on the season in 2009.

Following the tournament, the Cavaliers will return home to host the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup on Sept 3-4 in Memorial Gymnasium. North Florida and George Washington, in addition to in-state rival Liberty, will join the Cavaliers for the two-day tournament.

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