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Volleyball to co-host French Memorial, eye perfect start

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Volleyball to co-host French Memorial, eye perfect start

Austin Sting/Observer

Austin Sting/Observer

Austin Sting/Observer

Breana Freeman sets a pass to Natalie Southard. Freeman and teammate Rachel Gulasey were named to the All-Tournament team at the Green Hornet Invitational. The women finished 4-0.

Peter Cooke, Sports Editor

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The Case Western Reserve University women’s volleyball team opened up the 2012-2013 campaign with a perfect weekend by going 4-0 at the Green Hornet Invitational in Kalmazoo, MI.

Not only did the Spartans sweep their opponents last weekend, they did it in impressive form, not dropping a single set over the four matches.  Case swept Olivet College, Kalamazoo College, Anderson University, and Franklin College, and placed setter Breana Freeman and libero Rachel Gulasey on the All-Tournament team.

Freeman finished the weekend with 52 assists and 18 digs while Gulasey finished with a team high 43 digs.

The opening weekend set up the Spartans well for this upcoming weekend when they co-host the annual Marcia French Memorial Tournament with Baldwin-Wallace College.  Case will host four teams in the Horsburgh Gymnasium while the other four teams will play in Ursprung Gymnasium in Berea, Ohio.  Case will take on local rival John Carroll University and Franklin & Marshall College today at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.  The women will then close out the tournament on Saturday morning when they take on the College of Wooster at 10:30 a.m. and Franciscan University at 12:30 p.m.

The Spartans have had a pretty good track record at their annual home tournament, going 10-2 in the past four years.  They finished 4-0 last year, dropping just two sets, both to Johns Hopkins University.  They finished 3-1 in 2010, losing to non-conference rival Mount Union University 3-1.  They again went 3-1 in 2008, losing to Alma College.

Case hasn’t played Franklin & Marshall or Franciscan in the past four years, but the Spartans have dominated their other two opponents.  They’ve played each team at least once in the past four years with the exception of Wooster in 2009.  Since 2008, Case is 6-1 against John Carroll with a 3-2 loss four years ago and 4-0 against the Fighting Scots.

Franklin & Marshall finished last season 18-11, including 9-1 in the Centennial Conference, and is off to a 3-0 start this season.  They should match up well with the Spartans, but the home team should have the upper hand.

Franciscan is off to a 2-2 start, splitting its first two days at the Bearcat Invitational, hosted by St. Vincent College.  The Lady Barons finished 12-13 in 2011 and competed in last year’s Marcia French Memorial Tournament, but at the Baldwin-Wallace site.  They finished 1-3, beating Oberlin College and losing to Westminster College, John Carroll and Thiel University.

The big story for the Spartans will be how their huge freshman class will perform in front of the home crowd.  Case has ten rookies on its rosters and four of them have seen significant playing time in the first four games.  Setter Robyn Marks has appeared in all 12 sets and has 42 assists, 11 behind Freeman.  Middle hitter Caitlin Shipp has appeared in nine sets and has 15 kills, third on the team.  Outside hitter Samantha Buddemeyer has 16 kills in ten sets.  Finally, on the right side, is Danielle Witri, who has appeared in every set and is fourth on the squad with 13 kills and third in assists with six.

The Spartans have to feel confident heading into their first home tournament against teams they know they can beat.  An 8-0 start would be one of the best in program history and would set them up for a tough matchup at Mount Union next weekend before the Allegheny Gator Invitational on Sept. 14-15.

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Volleyball to co-host French Memorial, eye perfect start