By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Tech volleyball team (3-3) heads to Kennesaw (Ga.) State University this weekend to compete in the Kennesaw Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Friday the Golden Eagles take on host Kennesaw at 11 a.m. CDT and Coastal Carolina at 4 p.m., and on Saturday they play Stony Brook at 9 a.m. and finish out with Samford at 1:30 p.m.
"This weekend we play four teams, which is tough for players and coaches," said head coach Dave Zelenock. "As a staff, we are poring over film and trying to not overload the team with details, and as players, they are going to have to really push each other to go hard for two matches a day. It sounds simple to most people, but college volleyball is usually one match a day, giving everything you've got. So playing two is mentally tough, you don't want to hold anything back or pace yourself, but after that match is done you have to turn around and do it all over again.
"The teams we play this weekend are going to be a challenge because they play a different style than us," said Zelenock. "It's something we can try to show in practice, but it won't be the same as what those opponents are going to do. My challenge to the team is to dive in right away and not test the waters. If we come out fast and aggressive, hopefully we can get some good results."
Versus Kennesaw (Live Stats)
Kennesaw State will be hungry for a win, as they take on TTU in the Owl's first home match of the season. Tech hitters will want to avoid hitting to KSU senior libero Camille Pedraza, who landed a spot on the All-Tournament Team last weekend with 58 digs and a 5.27 digs per set average through three matches in Oxford, Miss., including a pair of 20-dig outings. Kennesaw (1-5) enters their last tournament before starting Atlantic Sun Conference play. This is the first time the Golden Eagles and Owls will match up.
Versus Coastal Carolina (Live Stats)
Coastal Carolina looks to pose some offensive firepower, averaging 11.5 kills per set. In their last outing, Coastal Carolina hit a high percentage of .321. The Chanticleers will be looking to better their 2-4 record in their third of four tournaments. Projected to finish second in the Big South Conference, Coastal Carolina will match up with Tech for the third time. Tech leads the series 2-0.
Versus Stony Brook (Live Stats)
A new opponent for Tennessee Tech volleyball, Stony Brook will look to dig Tech's offense off the court, led by sophomore Lo Hathaway who was named to the All-Tournament team at the Syracuse Candlewood Suites Invitational after digging the Orange 27 times and adding 42 digs in the Seawolves' three other matches combined. The America East Conference member looks to improve on its 3-4 record before it's final tournament.
Versus Samford (Live Stats)
Samford enters the Kennesaw Invitational as the team to beat. The Bulldogs, 5-3, have garnished experience this season playing the likes of No. 6 Minnesota, Lipscomb and UAB. As an offense, Samford is hitting .266 on the season and averaging 13.67 kills per set. They also look to have a balanced offense with four players averaging two or more kills per set. This will be the 13th match-up between Tech and Samford as Samford used to be a member of the Ohio Valley Conference with Tech. Tech leads the series 7-5.
Things You Should Know
Ace, Ace, Cody
Sophomore Cody Dodd has been on fire from the endline. The middle blocker is leading the OVC in aces per set at .75. Dodd's high mark has garnished her a spot in the NCAA rankings as well. Following two weekends of action, she sits at fifth place in the nation.
Following a stellar weekend at the Akron Invitational (Sept. 6-7), senior Elise Robertson was named to the Akron Invitational All-Tournament Team. During the tournament, Robertson put down 33 kills while maintaining a .273 hitting percentage. She also added four blocks.
No Freshman Jitters
Freshman Sharon Anderson made her first career start in the match against Niagara. She dished out 41 assists and added 11 digs to record the first double-double of her collegiate career. She led Tech's offense to team hitting percentage of .247 and 15.67 kills per set.
The Samford Bulldogs are no foreigner to TTU athletics fans as Samford was a member of the OVC until 2008. They joined the OVC in 2003 after leaving the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bulldogs held a 26-58 record during their stint in the OVC. This will be the 13th match up for Tech and Samford.
Quotes from Coach
"Our team is constantly evolving; our defense is getting better each time we go out," Zelenock commented. "Week one we effectively didn't play any defense and this week we are 6th in the OVC in opponent hitting percentage. It's a real point of emphasis for us to get better at defense, but that takes time. Our offense continues to put up good numbers even as we play around with different personnel and rotations. We keep adding new wrinkles in the offense, so it makes us a little harder to scout. Every match we change what our focus is offensively and that has allowed us to stay ahead of a lot of teams."