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August 24, 2008

Eagles making final preparations for season-opener

EVANSVILLE, Ind.The University of Southern Indiana volleyball team is making its final preparations for its 2008 season-opener against No. 6 Grand Valley State University Friday at 10 a.m. in the "Middle of Everywhere" Classic in Rolla, Missouri.

USI, which has been practicing since August 12, will get a tune-up Monday when it hosts Oakland City University for a scrimmage at the Physical Activities Center. The scrimmage, which will have no official score or statistics, begins at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.

Fourth-year Head Coach Leah Mercer will want to get the Screaming Eagles in tip-top shape as they battle two top 25 teams during the opening weekend. In addition to Grand Valley State, the defending Great Lakes Region champions, the Eagles also play No. 17 Pittsburg State University Saturday at noon.

Sandwiched in between their battles with Grand Valley State and Pittsburg State is a match with Missouri Western State University Friday at 2 p.m. The Eagles close the opening weekend's slate Saturday with a 4 p.m. match against Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Mercer will count on her eight returning players and three newcomers to get the Eagles back into the GLVC championship race.

USI, which was picked to finish second in the GLVC West Division, will be led by senior middle blocker Margaret Buschman (Reynolds, Indiana) and junior setter Melanie Pund (Ferdinand, Indiana). Buschman is USI's top returning attacker after averaging 2.70 kills and a .273 attacking percentage last year, while Pund averaged 11.76 assists in 29 games as USI's starting setter a year ago.

In 2008, the NCAA has adopted international scoring rules in which teams will play each set to 25 via rally scoring instead of 30. The fifth and deciding frame will still be played to 15.

Following the opening weekend, the Eagles travel to St. Louis to take part in the University of Missouri-St. Louis Tournament September 5-6. USI plays No. 2 Washburn University to open the four-match classic-style tournament.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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