SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate volleyball team opens the 2011 season on the road at Virginia this weekend (Aug. 26-27) for the Marriott Cavalier Classic, taking on Western Carolina, Virginia and Western Michigan.
The Spartans open the tournament Friday (Aug. 26) with a 4:30 p.m. match against Western Carolina, followed by a 7 p.m. contest between host Virginia and Western Michigan. The Catamounts lead the all-time series against Upstate 7-2, which dates back to 1977. Western Carolina holds a 5-1 advantage in neutral site matches. In the teams' last meeting, Upstate posted a three-set victory with scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-14.
This will be the first of two meetings between the Spartans and Western Carolina. Upstate will host the Catamounts Sept. 17 for the Quality Inn & Suites Spartan Classic.
Saturday's full slate of matches, kicks-off with Western Michigan taking on Western Carolina at 11 a.m., followed by a 1 p.m. contest between UVA and Upstate.
"What a great way to open the season," said Upstate head coach Jennifer Calloway. "We're going to open the season at Virginia, an ACC school, and we're just really excited. I'm really proud of the girls. They've worked really hard this preseason."
This will be the first meeting between the Spartans and Cavaliers. UVA finished the 2010 season with a 14-16 record and an 8-12 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Cavaliers were picked to finish ninth in the league by a vote of ACC head coaches.
The Marriott Cavalier Classic wraps up with Upstate squaring off against Western Michigan at 5 p.m. and Virginia taking on Western Carolina at 7 p.m. This will be the first match-up against the Spartans and the Broncos. Western Michigan went 22-10 in 2010 and was picked third in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference preseason poll after registering a 12-4 record last year in conference play.
After going 10-18 last year, Upstate head coach Jennifer Calloway added five newcomers to the Spartan squad, including four junior college transfers. Upstate returns seven letter winners and four starters.
The Spartans will be led this season by seniors Morgan Thomas and Kelsie Queen. Last season, Thomas led the team in blocking with 21 solo rejections and assisting in 54 denials to average 0.70 blocks per set. She was second on the team with 262 kills, good for 2.45 per set. Queen recorded 236 kills last year, averaging 2.21 per set.
Upstate will depend heavily on junior leadership this season with six of its 12 members being juniors. This includes Mindy Quimby, who was third on the team in 2010 with 250 kills, averaging 2.34 kills per set. Quimby's classmate, Emily Sanders recorded 1,093 assists last year. She ranks eighth in Upstate history with 1,598 career assists. Sanders was also second on the squad in digs with 337, averaging 3.18 per set.