COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech volleyball is back in action for the 2012 season. The Golden Eagles open the 2012 campaign traveling east to Chattanooga for the Country Inns & Suites Invitational. In a weekend which pegs Tech against two first time opponents, the Golden Eagles kick off the tournament at 3:00 p.m. CT against USC Upstate. Saturday the Golden Eagles have two matches lined up, taking on the Braves of Alcorn State at 9:00 a.m. CT and in the tournament finale Tech faces the host UT Chattanooga at 6:00 p.m. CT.
GOLDEN EAGLE PREVIEW
Tech returns 12 players from last year's squad, which finished 5-25 overall, including all seven starters. Head coach John Blair also added two freshman to the roster. Blair is entering his tenth season at the helm of the Golden Eagles. Last season Blair became the second coach in Tech history to earn his 100th victory at UT Chattanooga.
Junior Natalie Penrod is back to lead the team. Penrod registered a team high 301 kills and 3.01 kills/set last season.
Senior Kelsey Gray will be the go to middle for Tech after a successful spring season. In 2011, Gray averaged 2.13 kill/set and led the team with 106 total blocks and .96 blocks/set. Gray's blocking effort placed Tech atop the OVC with a team 2.03 blocks/set average.
Sophomore outside Ellen Conti will also be making a splash at the net. The 2011 OVC-Newcomer evolved into one of Tech's most consistent players last season, falling second on the team with 248 kills.
The Golden Eagles will look for leadership from senior setter Madi Comperry. Comperry ran an offense that ended the season with a .143 attack percentage. This summer Comperry participated in the European Global Challenge, she spent two weeks in Europe playing against some of the top club teams from Germany.
TECH VS. USC UPSTATE
This is the first meeting for Tech and USC Upstate.
Scouting the Spartans
USC Upstate returns four starters from the 2011 season. The Spartans went 8-21 last season, finishing tenth in the Atlantic Sun Conference, with a 2-11 record in league play.
TECH VS. ALCORN STATE
This is the first meeting for Tech and Alcorn State
Scouting the Braves
Alcorn state returns six letterwinners from the 2011 squad. Last season the Braves went 3-29, finishing fifth in SWAC West.
TECH VS. UT CHATTANOOGA
The in-state rivals have played each other 35 times, and Tech holds a 27-8 advantage. Last season Tech edged out the Mocs in a 3-2 victory (25-17, 25-19, 27-29, 19-15, 15-13).
Scouting the Mocs
Last season the Mocs went 5-26, and finished sixth in the Southern Conference. UT Chattanooga returns six starters and their libero. The Mocs averaged a .139 team attack percentage.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Golden Eagles will return to the court at Xavier University, the second of four tournaments kicking off the 2012 season. Tech will battle Xavier (8/31), Marquette (9/1) and Ole Miss (9/1) in some of the toughest competition of the season.
CATCH THE GOLDEN EAGLES: Fans can watch the Country Inns & Suites Invitational live and catch Live stats via UT Chattanooga here.
HEAD COACH: John Blair continues his reign as head coach by reaching the decade mark becoming only the second coach in Tech history to do so.
During the 2011 season, Blair reached another milestone, earning his 100th victory at UT Chattanooga in a five-set thriller. Blair has had continued success since he lead the Golden Eagles to a conference championship in 2008, making it to the OVC tournament four out of the past five seasons.
Blair earned his 69th OVC victory last season when the Golden Eagles defeated Eastern Kentucky on November 11. Blair now has 373 wins after 27 years as a head coach, including 104 career wins at Tennessee Tech, making him the third winningest coach in program history.
SENIORS: There are three seniors leading the 2012 squad. Madi Comperry, Katrina Dvorken and Kelsey Gray lead the Golden Eagles and are looking to get back to the OVC tournament. The trio has a career record 26-63. They have accumulated four tournament wins and appeared two OVC Tournaments.