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Lady Raiders ready to play

August 30, 2001 · MT Media Relations
Murfreesboro, Tenn. - After 28 practices, the Middle Tennessee Lady Raider volleyball team is ready to see someone else on the court beside themselves.

A trip to Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend, to compete in the Charlotte Invitational, will offer the team it's chance to test out what they worked on in practice. It is also an opportunity for head coach Lisa Kissee to try out line-ups and offensive and defensive schemes.

Middle Tennessee will be meeting three teams in the tournament, Charlotte, Kansas and Virginia Commonwealth, for the first time in the schools history. Providence College is the only team the Lady Raiders have played before and has an all-time record of 0-1.

"This early in the season we don't know much about the competition, so it is a chance for us to focus on the team and how well they implement what we have been working on during the preseason," Kissee said. "The good thing about this weekend is we have four games, and everyone will get a chance to play."

One player who may be absent from the line-up is freshman Evi Gargalianos. The middle blocker from Greece is still waiting to be cleared from the Clearing House.

"It will be a real shame if Evi doesn't get to make the trip with us this weekend," Kissee said. "She has been looking very good in practice the last few days and has been serving really well."

One player who will be making her first trip as a Lady Raider is freshman outside hitter Shakeithia Deckard. After having to red shirt last season, Kissee is anxious to see what she can do in a real game after having a successful preseason.

"She is a powerful hitter and she can really terminate the ball, Kissee said. "I am really excited about seeing her in a live game."

Defense has been the main focus of the team throughout the preseason, as the team has placed a lot of attention on blocking. It is an important component since the rule change, which brings rally scoring to every game, with the teams playing to thirty points in the best three out of five games.

On offense, the team is pretty comfortable with its personnel. Kissee can turn to six strong hitters to answer the offensive call.

"We have six hitters who can put the ball away," Kissee said. "It is a different situation to have six go to players you can count on to really swing it."

All the practice and preparation will culminate on Friday August 31 when the team opens the 2001 season with Kansas at 11 a.m., and later in the afternoon they will face Virginia Commonwealth at 5:30 p.m. Action continues on Saturday when Middle Tennessee faces host Charlotte at 1 p.m. and Providence College at 5:30 p.m.

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