LSU volleyball to host eight home matches

Coming off one of their most successful seasons in the last 10 years, the LSU volleyball team will host eight matches in 2005, all in Southeastern Conference play, while facing eight teams that advanced to the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

The 2005 slate includes four preconference tournaments, featuring the prestigious eight-team UTSA Dome Rally. With ongoing renovations to the Maravich Center, the Tigers are limited to just their eight home SEC matches this season, but that schedule includes a match against 2004 NCAA Sweet 16 participant Tennessee.

"Our schedule is going to lend itself to a start against several very balanced teams that will have the opportunity to win their conference or that we project will have very successful seasons," said Flory. "Not playing at home is certainly going to be a factor in that we are on the road for the first four weekends in a row, but it's a choice that we had to make given the Maravich Center renovations. We are going to be thrilled that we took the time to allow the renovations to occur and not hold things back."

LSU opens up the season with back-to-back weekends in Georgia. The Tigers first travel to Statesboro from Aug. 26-27, for the Georgia Southern Invitational to face the host Eagles, Jacksonville and Campbell. Georgia Southern has recorded four consecutive 20-win seasons, while Jacksonville advanced to the 2004 NCAA Tournament. LSU then travels to Atlanta for the Georgia State Invitational from Sept. 2-3, to take on the host Lady Panthers, Jacksonville State and Wright State.

"Georgia Southern is a nice staring tournament for us," said Flory. "I think we'll be able to get some people some good experience and likewise at Georgia State."

The Tigers then face their first test at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio from Sept. 9-11. LSU will face the host Roadrunners, Texas A&M and Rice. The elite eight-team tournament also features Florida and USC, who faced off in the 2003 national championship game, and Notre Dame, which advanced to the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

"The San Antonio tournament is a tremendous event for volleyball and we are thrilled to be a part of it," said Flory. "It's an eight-team tournament that is going to be a great place for us to showcase our abilities in front of a more nationally based audience in terms of the other teams that are participating. As far as the teams that we are playing, we have some nice matchups against some teams that are going to have successful seasons and be well known on the national level. It's going to be a nice challenge for us."

Playing in Louisiana for the first time in 2005, the Tigers will next participate in the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans on Sept. 16-17. LSU will face the host Green Wave, along with Arizona State and Notre Dame.

"Tulane is going through a bit of a rebuilding year after losing their coach and a lot of their players, but they are going to have some international flavor," said Flory. "Arizona State and Notre Dame give us another chance to play some teams that are going to be recognized nationally."

The Tigers finally begin play at home with the start of the SEC schedule. With a fortunate draw in the league schedule, LSU will host Tennessee and South Carolina, while also playing Florida and Georgia only once. The Tigers will also play home and home matches with its six remaining conference opponents, including divisional rivals Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State and Eastern Division foe Kentucky.

"Our conference schedule is a very good schedule for us," said Flory. "We play South Carolina and Tennessee only once and it's at our place, while we play Georgia and Florida only once, at their place.

"We feel like we have a great opportunity to be successful in preseason, nationally, and in our conference, certainly in our division, throughout our schedule."

The Tigers open league action at home on Friday, Sept. 23 against South Carolina for the "Season Kickoff" promotion. Fans will have the opportunity to win four tickets to the LSU-Tennessee football game the following night. A day after the Tigers face the Vols on the football field, LSU volleyball will host the Lady Vols on the court, facing Tennessee on Sunday, Sept. 25. Fans will have the opportunity to win a free 2006 LSU volleyball camp tuition during the match.

After four consecutive road matches at Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky, the Tigers return home to face Mississippi State on Friday, Oct. 14 for "Mini-Makeover Tiger Tailgate Night". Fans are encouraged to bring their children for a free makeover while enjoying free food. On Sunday, Sept. 16, LSU will complete the Mississippi weekend with a match against Ole Miss as part of Mike the Tiger's birthday party. Free cake will be served, while all Scout Troops are encouraged to come to the game.

After a pair of road matches at Georgia and Florida, the Tigers host Auburn and Alabama. LSU will face the opposing Tigers on Friday, Oct. 28 for "Silver Tiger Recognition Night", where senior citizens will be recognized at the match. The following Sunday, LSU will face the Crimson Tide for "Cancer Awareness Day". Fans will also be allowed into the match for free with their bookmarks.

After a road trip through Mississippi, the Tigers close out the regular season at home against Arkansas on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and Kentucky on Friday, Nov. 11. LSU is hosting "Employee Appreciation Night" against the Lady'Backs and university employees will win great prizes. Against the Wildcats, the Tigers are celebrating "Military Appreciation Night" as all military personnel get into the match for free. Fans will also have the opportunity to get into the match for free if they bring a canned food item to the match as part of "Flory's Canned Food Drive".

The eight-team SEC Tournament will follow on Nov. 18-20 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. LSU is one of only two schools in the league to qualify for the postseason tournament in every year of its existence, dating back to 1979. The Tigers will then await the bids for the 2005 NCAA Tournament, which will be announced on Nov. 27 live on ESPNews.

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