CHATTANOOGA, TN (gomocs.com) --- The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team open the season hosting the Chattanooga Classic - Presented by Hampton Inn & Suites in Downtown Chattanooga at Maclellan Gym Friday and Saturday. The two-day tournament welcomes Valparaiso, Troy and Eastern Kentucky.
"These three teams are very comparable to the top half of the Southern Conference," head coachTravis Filar stated. "Those are teams we need to beat to put ourselves in the conversation for the Southern Conference title."
The Mocs return nine letter winners, including 2015 preseason All-Southern Conference honoree Kristy Wieser (Lincoln, Neb.) and five seniors. In addition, six newcomers are making their first appearance sporting Chattanooga jerseys, five of which are in their first collegiate match.
"First matches are ramped up with a higher level of excitement," Filar said. "The first time playing in a real match is going to create jitters, but if we do that at home, hopefully some of those go away because we're comfortable in Maclellan Gym."
UTC plays their first match against the Valparaiso Crusaders Friday at 6 p.m. The Crusaders finished 2014 with an overall record of 25-8 and 9-5 in Horizon League matchups. They finished third in their league, while posting the highest hitting percentage and most digs per set. The team faced two SoCon opponents last year, beating Wofford 3-1 and Western Carolina 3-0.
Valpo returns senior setter Kelsey Berrington, who was ranked third in the Horizon last year with assists per set, recording 10.7. The Crusaders also return Emily Campbell, a junior outside hitter and right-side attacker. She was second in their league for kills per set, posting 4.3.
The Mocs take the floor again Saturday at 12:30 p.m., facing the Troy Trojans. Troy's program marked a 10-22 overall record last season, paired with a 2-18 record in Sun Belt Conference play. The Trojans played against one SoCon team, claiming a 3-2 win against Mercer.
The Trojans roster includes senior outside hitter Blair Winston. She led the offense with 365 kills and 1,084 attack attempts last season. Senior middle hitter Darby Griff made the most blocks on the team with 108. Also, Ali Dowdall, a senior libero and defensive specialist, finished the year with 437 digs.
Then, Chattanooga wraps up the weekend competing against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels Saturday at 7 p.m., in the last match of the tournament. The Colonels ended 2014 with an overall 21-14 record and an 11-5 Ohio Valley Conference finish, placing third in the league. They competed against one SoCon team, beating The Citadel 3-0.
Eastern Kentucky boasts a preseason All-OVC team member, Rachel Vick. Last season she was second on the team for points (440.5), kills (367) and blocks (92). Also, returning sophomore Celina Sanks finished the 2014 campaign with a team-best 100 blocks.
The Chattanooga Classic is each team's first tournament of the season. Eastern Kentucky squares off against Troy Friday at 3 p.m. Then, on the second day of the tournament, Valparaiso plays Eastern Kentucky at 10 a.m., and Troy at 4:30 p.m. Live stats and video are available for all six matches on GoMocs.com.