Greenville, S.C. – Furman volleyball heads to Atlanta, Ga., this weekend to open the 2017 season at the Hyatt Regency Georgia Tech Invitational. The Paladins kickoff the season with an 8:00 p.m. game against #17 Michigan State on Friday, before facing tournament-host Georgia Tech at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and rounding out the weekend with a 6:00 p.m. matchup with Auburn.
Saturday morning's matchup with Georgia Tech will be shown on ACC Network Extra. ACC Network Extra broadcasts are available via WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN app on mobile devices.
Furman looks to rebound from a disappointing 2016, that saw the Paladins go 11-19 and 6-10 in SoCon play. The Paladins are tasked with replacing 2015 SoCon Player of the Year, Annie Bierman, but return nine players who started at least one match in 2016, including the 2017 team captains Meg DeMaar and Jamila Johnson. Furman was picked sixth in the SoCon's preseason poll, voted on by the league's head coaches.
Michigan State is coming off a 25-9 (13-7) season in 2016 and opens the 2017 campaign at No. 17 in the AVCA national poll. The Spartans made their 19th overall NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016 and Michigan State returns three AVCA All-America selections to the 2017 squad: senior Alyssa Garvelink (Second Team, 2016), redshirt senior Autumn Bailey (Honorable Mention, 2013, 2014, 2016), and senior Rachel Minarick (Honorable Mention, 2014).
Georgia Tech posted a 24-8 record and a 15-5 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play in 2016. Despite losing five seniors, the Jackets return key players in Gabriela Stavnetchei (who was named to the preseason all-ACC team), Sydney Wilson and Kodie Comby.
Auburn finished 2016 with a 15-16 overall record and went 9-9 in SEC play. The Tigers tied for fifth in the league, marking the best conference finish since 2010. The team returns four starters and libero from 2016 -- senior Alexa Filley, senior Jesse Earl, senior Macy Reece, sophomore Gwyn Jones, and junior Brenna McIlroy.
Live stat links for all three matches will be available on FurmanPaladins.com, along with a video link for the Georgia Tech match. Fans can also follow @FurmanVB on Twitter for periodic match updates.
Chandler Carver Simpson, Sports Information