Weekend Previews: Sept. 11-13

The Skinny on this weekend's games for men’s soccer, volleyball, and field hockey

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Senior setter Lauren Fuller and the Virginia volleyball team travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the Crimson-White Tournament. Fuller leads the Cavaliers with 225 assists this season.

John Pappas | Cavalier Daily

Volleyball

What: Crimson-White Tournament: Virginia vs. Saint Louis, Troy and Alabama

Where: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

When: Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, 12 and 8 p.m.

The Skinny: The Virginia volleyball team will compete this Friday and Saturday at the Crimson-White Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Cavaliers (4-1) — who defeated Virginia Commonwealth, Appalachian State and NCAA tournament-regular Iowa State at last weekend’s Cavalier Classic — will face off against Saint Louis, Troy and Alabama.

Saint Louis, Virginia’s Friday adversary, is coming off a straight-sets win against Western Illinois Tuesday night. The Billikens (3-5) have played each of their last five matches at home, compiling a 2-3 record. Coach Kent Miller’s team has matched up with two ranked opponents this year, No. 9 Brigham Young and No. 20 Purdue, and claimed a set against the Boilermakers.

Troy, meanwhile, had won four consecutive matches before Tuesday night’s four-set defeat against Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, La. Paced by junior middle hitter Sara Landis, a Lamar transfer, the Trojans have out-blocked their foes 88-44 this season. Landis and junior outside hitter Symone Shaw lead Troy offensively, with a combined 111 kills in 2015.

SEC coaches tabbed Alabama for a second-place conference finish this year, but the Crimson Tide (2-5) have struggled thus far. Coach Ed Allen’s team downed Northwestern State in straight sets last Friday but has lost three consecutive matches since then — all in five sets. Alabama features two-time AVCA Honorable Mention All-American senior Sierra Wilson at setter. Wilson dished out 1,529 assists as a junior, breaking the Alabama single-season record.

—compiled by Matthew Morris

Men’s Soccer

What: No. 5 Virginia (2-0-1) at Duke (4-0-0)

Where: Durham, N.C.

When: Friday, 7 p.m.; Televised on ESPN3

The Skinny: The fifth-ranked Virginia men’s soccer team grinded out another win this past Tuesday against George Mason to maintain its undefeated start to the season. The team looks to continue its early season success this Friday in arguably its toughest match to date — a road game against the also-undefeated Duke Blue Devils.

The Cavaliers defeated an up-and-down Duke team (9-9-1 in the 2014 season) last year 1-0, but this year’s Duke team has emerging young players that have propelled the Blue Devils to an excellent start. Led by sophomore forward Jeremy Ebobisse, who leads the team in scoring with four goals, Duke possesses a high-powered offense that has scored 11 goals in four games.

However, the Cavaliers defense has been exceptional as well this season and should match up strongly with Duke’s offensive attack. Thanks to outstanding work in goal from sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, as well as strong play defensively led by the sophomore center back duo Wesley Suggs and Sheldon Sullivan, Virginia has allowed only two goals in three games, including recording a shutout against a talented Charlotte team.

A win for Virginia in its first road game and in-conference ACC game of the season would go a long way in the team’s campaign for a second straight national championship. A win for Duke would result in its first 5-0 start to a season since 2006.

—compiled by Jack Gallagher

Field Hockey

What: No. 6 Virginia (4-0) at No. 11 Louisville (4-0) and Miami, Ohio (3-2)

Where: Louisville, Ky. and Oxford, Ohio

When: Friday, 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.

The Skinny: The sixth-ranked Virginia field hockey team hits the road for the second time in the young 2015 season, traveling first to meet No. 11 Louisville. The contest against the Cardinals marks a matchup between two of the just 10 remaining unbeaten teams in the country.

While Friday’s game will be the Cavaliers’ third facing a ranked opponent, Louisville has not yet faced a top-25 team. Virginia’s strong performance thus far has largely been fueled by sophomore midfielder Tara Vittese, who leads the team with 11 points. Vittese, last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year, provided in critical areas during each of Virginia’s tight games by opening the scoring opportunities in both of the Cavaliers’ overtime wins.

The Cardinals must stop many more than Vittese if they hope to derail Virginia. Freshman striker Greta Ell has put up 10 points of her own, and the Cavaliers average 4.75 goals per game — good for fourth-best in the nation.

This, combined with a stingy 2.35 goals against average, makes Virginia a tough matchup for each team on the schedule. The defense will have to solve the Cardinals’ top scorer, sophomore midfielder Stephanie Byrne, who has four goals in 2015, if it hopes to keep that mark low.

Sunday’s contest against Miami appears on paper to be less challenging for Virginia. However, the Red Hawks’ two losses have come in close contests against top-10 opponents. Miami dropped its opener to then-No. 7 Albany before ripping off three straight wins without giving up a goal. The Red Hawks then had to travel to Palo Alto, Calif. to take on then sixth-ranked Stanford and fell in a 1-0 overtime decision.

—compiled by Ryan Taylor

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