MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University volleyball team is set for its first road trip of the 2012 season where the Mountaineers will travel to Fairfax, Va., for The Mason Inn Patriot Invitational at George Mason University on Sept. 1-2.
WVU will open the tournament on Saturday with matches against South Carolina and Navy at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively. The team will wrap up the road trip with a match against tournament host George Mason on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Based on our performance from Wednesday, we did a lot of good things but we also have a lot of key things that we need to be working on,” coach Jill Kramer says. “We need to improve our serving game going into this weekend and we also need to improve our defensive game. We have some very different, but very clear goals against each team. They are all very different teams and they will all pose very different challenges.”
“It will be nice to play in a different environment and see how we handle things on the road and start to get into a groove there.”
The Mountaineers (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) are coming off a 3-0 loss to No.2-ranked Texas in their first Big 12 match of the season. Junior outside hitter Arielle Allen
led WVU with 10 kills, a .318 hitting percentage and seven digs.
Freshman outside hitter Hannah Sackett
, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, finished the Texas match with nine kills and six digs. The Somers, Mont., native continues to lead the Big 12 in kills (63) and kills per set (4.50) and is second in points per set with 5.11.
The Gamecocks (4-0) are the only team holding an undefeated record coming into this weekend. Sophomore Cara Howley recently received the AgSouth Player of the Week award after being named MVP of the Gamecock Invitational and leading South Carolina to a tournament victory. Howley led the team with a 1.00 blocks per set and was third in both kills per set (2.31) and points per set (3.08). Juliette Thevenin currently leads the team with 51 kills and 3.64 kills per set.
Navy is 1-2 coming into this weekend after posting a five-set victory over Hartford and dropping matches to Norfolk State and Nebraska-Omaha. Under the guidance of second-year coach Larry Bock, the Midshipmen look to bounce back this weekend with a young squad that features 11 freshmen. Senior Carolyn Ewert and freshman Olivia Yeager lead the team with 34 and 28 kills, respectively.
The Patriots earned their first victory of the season on Wednesday after defeating UMBC in five-sets. Juniors Tori Price and Laura Spencer led George Mason to a win after posting double-doubles with 52 assists and 12 digs and 12 kills and 13 digs, respectively. Spencer, along with preseason all-CAA selection Lana Zonjic lead the team in kills with a combined total of 58.
South Carolina currently holds a 4-1 series record over WVU with the last meeting coming in 1988. Saturday will be the first time WVU plays Navy since 1979, with the Mountaineers winning the sole meeting of the two teams. George Mason is the only team this weekend that Kramer has faced before. WVU fell to the Patriots in three sets in 2010, trailing in the series record 5-4.