Team sets up for tournament

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    As the state of Texas dodged Hurricane Dean this week, the volleyball team heads to hurricane country this weekend for its first three matches as part of the Florida State University Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla.The tournament pits the Horned Frogs against the University of North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs, Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles and the FSU Seminoles, the tournament’s host. The three opponents are ones head coach Prentice Lewis said the team knows little about. The team faces the Bulldogs and Eagles today, and get a shot at the Seminoles Saturday.

    Lewis said she expected a rebuilding process following the graduation of standout middle blocker Anna Vaughn. In 2006, Vaughn led the squad with 408 kills, 3.43 kills per game and a 32.9 attack percentage.

    Despite the loss of Vaughn, the squad’s 6-1 record last spring proved not much rebuilding would be needed.

    “It ended up being a very core group all together and played all the way through the entire spring,” Lewis said. “So coming into this fall, we have a different expectation than what we would have thought last February.”

    Junior setter Nirelle Hampton agreed with Lewis’ assessment and said this year’s squad has the potential to be one of the stronger teams in the Mountain West Conference.

    “(The spring) definitely set a precedent going into our season,” Hampton said. “It obviously (raised) our expectations. It just really helped our team in believing that we can accomplish greatness.”

    Blocking is the main skill the team has focused on, and senior middle blocker LeMeita Smith said she hopes the extra practice will pay off in matches. Last season, the Horned Frogs blocked 295 balls – 58 more compared to its opponents last season.

    “I have been working on my block by executing my plays and not over thinking them.” Smith said.

    The first serve against UNC-Asheville is at 11 a.m.

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