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Friday, August 24, 2007
Aug. 24, 2007
It's a volleyball extravaganza so big that it takes four schools and two cities to pull it off.
Saturday at Lipscomb's Allen Arena, Belmont, UAB and Samford will join the host Lady Bisons for the Music-Magic Invitational.
The Lady Bisons will play Samford at noon and UAB at 6 p.m. Belmont will face UAB at 10 a.m. to open the tournament and Samford at 4 p.m.
This is the second alignment of the tournament which began last season with Lipscomb, Belmont and Samford playing at Birmingham Southern. With Birmingham Southern dropping out of NCAA Division I UAB was added to the lineup.
"UAB and Belmont both played in the NCAA Tournament last year," Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. Any small tournament that can boast two NCAA Tournament teams is going to be attractive."
This is the first of a four-year plan for the tournament which moves to Samford in Birmingham next season.
"We are actually starting over again with year one," Rosenthal said. "I think it is a good tournament for us to be in. It should be very competitive.
"It gives us a chance for us to look at Belmont and for Belmont to look at us without having to play each other. It adds to the stakes of the rivalry as everybody gets a first look."
Volleyball teams are not allowed to play exhibition games in the fall. Saturday's matches will provide the first look for fans at all four teams. Rosenthal is especially anxious to see how his new players perform under game conditions,
"This will be a good test for us," Rosenthal said. "I feel like we have prepared well in the preseason.
"There is a different sense that any other year. This team is ready to go talent-wise. It is a matter of how quickly we can put everybody together and how quickly the new players can make the adjustments into our system."
At least two freshmen will be starting Saturday. Stefine "Jake" Pease from Berryton, Kansas will get the nod at the setter position. Alex Kelly, a freshman from Kansas City, Mo., will start in the middle. Sarah Snider, a junior transfer from the University of Alabama, will start at outside hitter.
"The experience factor, I think, will show up in the first weekend, but there is the experience they have of playing at a high level," Rosenthal said. "It is interesting with old and new players and trying to mix them together.
"The thing that is comforting is that we really have some gamers like Ann, Alex Scruggs, Sarah, Jake and Alex Kelly. They are players that you know are going to elevate their levels of play as soon as the whistle blows."