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MARTIN, Tenn. – The 2017 University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball season officially begins this weekend when the Skyhawks travel to the two-day WVU Invitational, hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va.
UT Martin joins No. 6 Penn State, West Virginia and Delaware in the four-team WVU Invitational field. The Skyhawks will take on Penn State on Friday, Aug. 25 at 3:30 p.m. CST before facing West Virginia (11:30 a.m. CST) and Delaware (3:30 p.m. CST) on Saturday, Aug. 26. This will be the first time in program history that UT Martin has squared off against Penn State and Delaware while the Skyhawks haven’t played West Virginia since 2005.
Head coach Jaclynn Yocum-Wilson oversees a UT Martin roster that features seven returners and three starters from last season. Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference honoree Jemima Idemudia (team-high 310 kills, 126 blocks in 2016) paces five seniors who combined for 118 starts last fall. Macy Reigelsperger (256 kills, 197 digs) and Kelly Lean (1,076 assists, 184 digs) round out the returning starters for the Skyhawks, who also welcome in seven newcomers to the fold in 2017.
Tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Big Ten Conference, Penn State returns 15 players under 39th-year head coach Russ Rose. The seven-time national champion Nittany Lions are paced by the senior Preseason All-Big Ten trio of Ali Frantti (295 kills, 219 digs last year), Simone Lee (team-high 503 kills in 2016) and Haleigh Washington (.430 attack percentage, team-best 140 blocks last season).
West Virginia was picked sixth in the Big 12 Conference preseason poll, one year after the Mountaineers doubled their previous season win total. Payton Caffrey (488 kills) earned All-Big 12 first team accolades last season as a freshman while senior Mia Swanegan led the Big 12 in blocks (1.34 per set) in 2016. Reed Sunahara is in his third season at the helm of the West Virginia volleyball program.
Delaware was selected sixth in the preseason Colonial Athletic Association standings after advancing to the conference championship match in 2016. Sophomore Maria Bellinger guided the Blue Hens in kills (338) last fall and was spotlighted as a Preseason All-CAA honoree. First-year head coach Sara Matthews will tutor a Delaware squad that includes nine returners from last season.
All three matches this weekend will be live streamed. Those links - as well as links for live stats - are located at the top of the webpage.