Sept. 13, 2012
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin volleyball team concludes non-conference play this weekend traveling south for the Georgia Southern Invitational in Statesboro, Ga.
The tournament follows a perfect weekend at the InnTowner Invitational where the Badgers took nine sets in a row to defeat Drake, North Dakota State and Milwaukee. Wisconsin has won seven matches in a row now, losing only five sets on the year while amassing six sweeps.
Head coach Pete Waite says success doesn’t mean his team can let up.
“I think every day in practice we’re searching for a higher level of our team play and our individual play,” Wait said. “So as long as we’re doing that, you’re always in search for something higher.”
The Badgers will face four teams this weekend, in Savannah State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville and South Alabama. Play begins early for Wisconsin, with a 9 a.m. match Friday to open the tournament against Savannah State.
The Lady Tigers enter play 0-12 on the season, including 0-36 in set play. Savannah State is led by Bryana Gadis, a 5-8 outside hitter, who is averaging 1.35 kills and 1.88 digs per set.
Wisconsin continues play later in the day against host Georgia Southern at 6 p.m. The Eagles are 6-5 this season and are coming off a 1-2 tournament finish in Albuquerque, N.M., where they defeated Portland 3-1 after dropping two 3-2 matches against New Mexico and UC Santa Barbara.
Leading Georgia Southern is Meredith Paskert, a 6-1 outside hitter, who is averaging 3.30 kills per set. Junior Enjoli Johnson, a 5-9 middle blocker, tops the Eagles with a .321 hitting percentage while adding 32 blocks.
“Georgia Southern has done some pretty good things against teams this year,” Waite said. “And being the host them, they’re the ones we’ll really have to be ready for.”
Saturday again means an early morning for the Badgers, who face Jacksonville at 9 a.m., with ournament play concluding against South Alabama at 3 p.m.
Jacksonville opened the 2012 season 1-8, losing their first eight matches before defeating Louisiana-Lafayette 3-2 this past weekend. The Dolphins will be no stranger to top-level competition when they meet the Badgers. JU has competed against North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and No. 15 Florida so far in 2012.
South Alabama completes non-conference play for the Badgers this season. The Jaguars are an even 5-5 in 2012 and fresh off a 2-1 weekend at the Georgia State Invitational where they defeated Mercer and Georgia State.
Freshman Savannah Stewart leads South Alabama, averaging 2.84 kills, 2.50 digs per set and 13 service aces. Sophomore Melissa Waelter, a 5-10 outside hitter, adds 2.63 kills per set.
Wisconsin has never previously faced any of its four opponents this weekend.
Waite says this weekend’s tournament is a great opportunity to fine-tune play before Big Ten Conference competition begins. He also expects to spread playing time deeper down the bench.
“We’re looking for our side to be able to get some different lineups on the court and get some people some playing experience,” Waite said. “I think the main thing is staying healthy this week and getting some more experience on the court, getting our chemistry better within our team and I think they’ll be very ready for Big Ten.”