Nashville, Tenn. - On Aug. 31, the Tennessee State volleyball team will travel to Portland, Ore. to take part in the two-day long Portland Nike® Invitational.
The team will travel to the west coast on Thursday, and play the host school Portland University on Friday night. The Tigers will then wake-up on Saturday and play UNLV at 11 a.m. and finish the tournament against Idaho State at 5 p.m.
TSU started the season strong by winning three of its first four games in the ISTAP Invitational.
"The team progressed very well [last] weekend," head coach Kathy Rouhlac said. "We had good tempo and ball control early in the tournament, and I felt like we got better each time we stepped out onto the court."
Junior setter Erika Moss paced the Tigers with 146 assists en route to being named OVC Setter of the Week. Her strong play allowed the team to hit a conference-leading .245 to start the season.
Sophomore outside hitter Naomi Wells led the Tigers on offense with a conference-high 64 kills during the four games while fellow sophomores Rachel Ambroch and Sherryce Butler added 44 and 41 kills, respectively. TSU attackers currently lead the OVC in kills per set with 12.73.
Defensively, senior libero Britani Hathorn tallied a team-high 61 digs, and Butler and freshman middle blocker Lindsay Hornsby chipped in with 13 total blocks combined.
The Tigers will be tested this weekend when they travel across the country to face off against three teams from the west.
"This tournament will probably be the toughest competition that we face all season. We are excited and ready to pick up the tempo," Rouhlac said.
First up for TSU is Portland University. Portland is 1-3 on the young season, but two of the team's three losses have come at the hands of Utah and Utah State. The Pilots have a pair of players who can score efficiently as both Autumn Wedan and Ariel Usher have 33 kills so far this season. The key for Portland is continuing to defend the net- the Pilots have three players with double-digit blocks.
TSU's second opponent, UNLV sits at 2-1 and has a player that can rival other premier setters such as Moss. So far this year, Kinsey Caldwell has tallied 106 assists for an average of 10.9 assists per set. Her play along with that of Rebel defenders has allowed UNLV to lead the Mountain West in assists per set and digs per set.
The last opponent in the invitational for the Tigers is Idaho State (1-2). The Bengals are paced by Tressa Lyman who has totaled a team-high 40 kills to go along with 29 digs. Idaho State is second in the Big Sky with a .237 hitting percentage and kills per set (13.36), so the Tigers cannot expect to win many points due to Idaho State errors.
The Portland Invitational will be extra special for Hathorn, as the tournament marks the first time in her TSU career that she will playing in her home town.
"We try to do a good job of making sure that our senior's families get an opportunity to see them play without traveling across the country to do it. The trip is worth it because Britani has been a huge asset to our success," Roulhac said.
Hathorn and the rest of the Tigers will look to build upon their three-game winning streak when they take on Portland on Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
-- TSU TIGERS --