Tuskegee Volleyball opens season hosting Spikefest

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (goldentigersports.com) – The calendar is nearing its turn to September, and with that turn comes a 14-match tournament inside Chappie James Arena beginning Friday.

Tuskegee, who was picked to finish third in the SIAC West Division this season, will host their first of two tournaments beginning at 8 am on Friday. The tournament will feature seven matches on Friday, with another seven on Saturday.

The Lady Golden Tigers will host the likes of SIAC foe Albany State, North Greenville, Limestone, St. Andrews and Talladega.

“I am excited to get on the floor,” Tuskegee head coach Melissa Robinson said. “We have the chance to do really well. The girls have been working extremely hard in practice, and I am excited to showcase everything that have been working on.”

Tuskegee does not have to wait long to showcase what they have worked on, opening the tournament with the first match against North Greenville at 8 am. It will be the first match up between the two schools.

The team returns to action at the end of the first night, facing Limestone at 8 pm. They return to action Saturday afternoon against St. Andrews (2 pm) and then close against Talladega (8 pm).

The core of last year’s team returns for another run in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, as the team finished 18-13 overall and third in the West Division.

Senior Pamela Allen, who was named co-Player of the Year last season, and Zahria Radford were each named to the preseason All-SIAC teams in August. Allen earned first team honors after recording a career-high 337 kills last season, while Radford earned second team honors by leading the team with 367 digs.

Sophomore Janae Graham returns after leading the team and the nation in service aces per set, and will make a position change as she moves from defensive specialist to the primary setter. Also returning from last season are Donovan Wingfield, Jacqueline Wilson and Angelique Watson.

Along with the six returning players, Robinson hit the recruiting trail this spring and signed seven new players to the squad.

“We have seven new players coming in this year from all over the country,” she said. “We have some good talent coming in, so I think it will definitely help us with what we have coming back from last season.”

The second-year coach will not let the freshmen rest; instead she will rely on them early and often with four matches in two days.

“Everyone needs to be ready,” she said. “I recruited them to be ready go, so they need to go. I expect everyone to give 100 percent and to add to what we have. It will be good for us in conference play because we have some athletes who haven’t touched the floor.”

The tournament will be the only time to watch Tuskegee play at home in the month of September, as they do not return home again until October 6 when they play host to the West Cluster.