Phoenix Volleyball to Open 2012 Season Friday at Home Tourney

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
Release: August 23, 2012
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Senior Carmen Leitermann and the Phoenix open the 2012 season Friday in the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament.

By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)

GREEN BAY, Wis. ( - The Green Bay volleyball team is set to open its 2012 campaign this weekend, welcoming Auburn, Central Michigan and Drake to the Kress Center for the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament. The tourney opens with a pair of contests on Friday, followed by an action-packed Saturday that includes four matches.

The Phoenix, which begins its schedule at home for the second year in a row, hosts Drake in its season opener on Friday at 7 p.m. before welcoming Central Michigan (12:30 p.m.) and Auburn (7 p.m.) to its home court on Saturday.

Fans unable to make it to the Kress Center this weekend can follow the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament live on Live stats will be available for free at the start of each contest, while a tournament package that includes live video of every match is available for $7.99.

Friday, August 24
4:30 p.m. - Central Michigan vs. Auburn [Live Stats | Live Video]
7 p.m. - Green Bay vs. Drake [Live Stats | Live Video]

Saturday, August 25
10 a.m. - Auburn vs. Drake [Live Stats | Live Video]
12:30 p.m. - Green Bay vs. Central Michigan [Live Stats | Live Video]
4:30 p.m. - Drake vs. Central Michigan [Live Stats | Live Video]
7 p.m. - Green Bay vs. Auburn [Live Stats | Live Video]

Green Bay returns 10 players from a 2011 squad that went 11-18 overall and 7-9 in conference play. Among those returning is senior libero Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.), who was recently selected to the seven-member Preseason All-Horizon League Team. The 2011 all-league performer averaged a school-record 5.78 digs per set as a junior last season - a figure that ranked ninth among NCAA Division I players.

Also back for her senior campaign is Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.), who finished second on the team and eighth in the conference with 302 kills. Junior setter Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.) also returns after a breakout sophomore campaign in which she led the Horizon League with 1,210 assists - the fifth-highest single season total in Phoenix history.

In addition to the group of returners, the Phoenix welcomes in a talented, five-member freshman class. The group of newcomers includes middle blockers Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) and Sophie Jaskulske (St. Paul, Minn.), setter/right side Taylor Kasal (Downers Grove, Ill.), libero Becca Mastey (Pulaski, Wis.) and outside hitter Stefanie Siroin (Washburn, Wis.).

The Phoenix is coached by Debbie Kirch, who begins her 16th season at Green Bay in 2012.

Each of Green Bay's three opponents in the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament comes from conferences rated in the top 10 in the RPI. The Southeastern Conference (Auburn) is rated third, the Mid-American Conference (Central Michigan) is seventh and the Missouri Valley Conference (Drake) is 10th.

Drake, coming off a 9-23 record in 2011, features a young roster that includes 10 freshmen and sophomores. The Phoenix is 2-10 all-time against the Bulldogs, with the last meeting resulting in a 3-0 loss on Sept. 10, 2010 in Des Moines, Iowa. Green Bay last defeated Drake during the 2006 season, picking up a 3-0 home win. The Bulldogs are guided by second-year head coach Tony Sunga.

Central Michigan enters the year with high expectations following a MAC Tournament Championship and NCAA berth in 2011. The Chippewas return five starters and its primary libero from last year's squad, and were recently picked third in the MAC West. Green Bay trails 4-3 in the all-time series with the Chippewas, most recently falling 3-0 to CMU in 2009. CMU is coached by Erik Olson, who is in his ninth season.

Auburn, coming off a 2011 campaign in which it went 11-19, returns four starters (plus libero) and 10 total letter winners. Auburn will make its first ever trip to Green Bay and the two schools will meet for just the second time in history. The Tigers won the lone meeting between the two teams, a 3-0 result on a neutral court in 1998. Auburn is led by head coach Rock Nold, who is in his second season.

Following the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament the Phoenix heads to DeKalb, Ill., on Aug. 28 to face Northern Illinois - another NCAA Tournament team from a year ago - in its first road contest of the season. The Huskies, the regular season MAC champs, went 28-7 in 2011 and earned an at-large bid to its sixth NCAA Tournament.


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