volleyball

Celebrating a team win against Syracuse on Dec. 4, 2017.

The West Virginia University volleyball team open up their season as they host the annual WVU Invitational this weekend at the Coliseum.

The weekend will kick off on Friday with the Mountaineers facing Georgia Southern at 10 a.m. followed by UConn at 6 p.m. It will end with a match against Wright State at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The matches will be difficult for each team.

WVU has a good mix between the nine freshmen joining along with the 10 letter winners and two starters returning after a 21-win campaign and second-ever appearance in program history in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) semifinals. Mountaineers are expecting another good season, despite being picked to place last in the Big 12.

"I want them to compete hard," WVU head coach Reed Sunahara said. "If they compete hard and control their attitude and their effort, then we can do some good things. That's what I'm looking for. I don't think winning X number

of games is what we are looking for. Obviously, we want to win, but our goal is to compete hard every day. We want to get one percent better every day."

With many having graduated, juniors Natania Levak and Katelyn Evans are expected to have a big season this year. Levak ended her sophomore year playing 122 of 125 sets, placing second on the team for a total of 75 blocks and third for 270 kills. Evans finished fourth on the team with a total of 205 kills.

Georgia Southern will come to Morgantown with four returning starters and 12 letter winners. The Eagles finished their 2017 season with an 8-21 overall record. WVU swept Georgia Southern, 3-0, in their last meeting in 2016.

WVU's former Big East rival UConn will be returning nine players this season and is picked to finish 11th in the 12-team American Athletic Conference poll. They finished with an 11-21 record last season, including a 3-2 loss to conference rival Temple, who played WVU in the NIVC last season.

Wright State ended their last season with an 11-18 overall record. Th is will also be their first season with new head coach Allie Matters. The Raiders are returning 10 players this season, including Abby Barcus who received the third most kills on the team with a total of 281. Teddie Sauer will also be returning after becoming the second leading blocker on the team with a total of 90 blocks. The Mountaineers beat the Raiders, 3-1, last season in Dayton.