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Young volleyball team eager to begin 2011 season

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After a successful training camp, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team will get a chance to test its mettle this weekend as it takes part in the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta.

"We've been training extremely hard," head coach John Blair said. "We are optimistic and we have been seeing signs of what we are capable of in practice."

The Golden Eagles open their 2011 campaign Friday, as they take on the Louisville Cardinals, at 3:30 p.m. TTU will then take on a pair of rivals Saturday in host Georgia Tech and Kansas State with the former beginning at 3:30 p.m. and the latter beginning at 3:30 p.m.

"This weekend will be everyone's first outing, so there will be a level of uncertainty with every team," Blair said. "We just have to trust in ourselves and each other." 

Last season, the Golden Eagles finished with 11 wins while advancing to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament for the fourth straight season under Blair.

Scouting the Cardinals

Last season, Louisville finished with a 23-8 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where it earned a pair of wins against OVC rival Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee, before getting knocked out by Purdue.

"Louisville is always a good team," Blair said. "They are the reigning Big East champions and we expect them to be the Louisville of old this weekend."

Notable returnees for the Cardinals include Lola Arslanbekova and Taylor Brauneis. Arslanbekova led Louisville in kills last season with 444, while Brauneis led the Cardinals in assists with 1,100.

The Golden Eagles are searching for their first win against Louisville, as the Cardinals have won all eight of the previous meetings including their last meeting in 2009.

Scouting the Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech finished its 2010 season with an 18-14 record. Returnees for the Yellow Jackets include Monique Mead, who led her squad in kills with 515, and Asla Stawicka, who posted a team-high 131 total blocks.

"This is the third season for the coaching staff at Georgia Tech," Blair said. "We expect them to be well coached  and be one of the top teams in their conference."

The Golden Eagles are 4-6 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, including a 3-0 loss in their last meeting back in 2004.

Scouting the Wildcats

Last season, Kansas State finished with a 12-19 record.  Returning for the Wildcats, is Kaitlynn Pelger, who led Kansas State in kills with 328 in 2010.

"Kansas State is a perennial power in their conference," Blair said. "They are very athletic and well coached."

This will be the Golden Eagles first meeting against the Kansas State and third match against a Big 12 opponent, with its previous two matches coming against Missouri.

Fans who cannot attend the matches can follow at the livestats at the link here