Georgia Volleyball Opens Season

ATHENS - The Georgia volleyball team will open its 2005 campaign with two matches at the UGA Ramsey Center this weekend. Georgia hosts Charlotte at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Middle Tennessee at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The Bulldogs, now led by first-year coach Steffi Legall, advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 for the first time in nine seasons. Senior Alexandra Oquendo was named a third-team All-American while senior Julia Petruschke earned second-team All-SEC honors.

Georgia has been picked to finish third in the SEC Eastern Division race in a poll by the league's coaches. The coaches picked Florida to win the overall conference crown and the Eastern Division and picked Tennessee to finish second behind the Gators. LSU and Arkansas were the choices to tie for first place in the SEC West.

Charlotte will be in town on Saturday for the Bulldogs' season opener. The 49ers finished last season with a record of 19-14 and were eighth in Conference USA. Georgia leads the all-time series 5-0 with the last win coming in 2002.

The Blue Raiders are coming of a 17-14 season a year ago that included a third-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference. The two teams will be meeting for the first time since Georgia's inaugural season of 1978, when the Bulldogs earned a 2-0 victory.

³Charlotte is always pretty scrappy defensively and we have to respect both of these teams,² said Legall. ³But early in the season our focus will be on us. We'll focus on our timing, balance and placement. Right now it's about Georgia playing Georgia-type volleyball.²

At the Charlotte match the first 1,000 fans will receive a schedule magnet courtesy of Georgia Power. There will also be a post-game autograph session with the team as well as games, which include an inflatable Pop-A-Shot. On ³Family Sunday,² fans can win pizza, T-shirts and other prizes. An autograph session will also be held following the Sunday contest.

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