UAB Opens 2013 Season With Home Tournament

Senior Rachel Fairbanks returns as libero for the Blazers

Aug 29, 2013

Tournament Central Page

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- The UAB volleyball team will open the 2013 season at home with the UAB/Samford Volleyball Challenge from Friday, Aug. 30 through Saturday, Aug. 31. The weekend tournament features seven teams that will play matches in Bartow Arena and just down the road at Samford in the Pete Hanna Center.

"We are certainly excited to host this tournament to start the season," said Head Coach Kerry Messersmith. "We were on the road four weekends in a row last year, our first four weekends, so we are excited to have a tournament at home and really excited to be able to get a team like Minnesota to come. It will be great to have that caliber team in our gym."

Along with hosts UAB (20-14, 11-5 C-USA) and Samford (23-9, 14-2 SoCon), the tournament includes Georgia State (4-20, 2-10 Sun Belt), Jacksonville State (14-17, 8-8 OVC), Mercer (11-17, 7-11 Atlantic Sun), No. 6 Minnesota (27-8, 15-5 Big Ten) and Presbyterian (13-18, 9-5 Big South). Matches will begin at 10:00 a.m. CT both days at Bartow Arena. The full schedule for the weekend is below.

Schedule for matches at Bartow Arena

Friday, August 30

10:00 a.m. - Mercer vs. UAB

12:00 p.m. - Jacksonville State vs. Minnesota

5:00 p.m. - Mercer vs. Jacksonville State

7:00 p.m. - Minnesota vs. UAB

Saturday, August 31

10:00 a.m. - Presbyterian vs. UAB

12:30 p.m. - Jacksonville State vs. Presbyterian

3:00 p.m. - Jacksonville State vs. UAB

Returning Talent

The Blazers are returning eight players, including three starters from the 2012 squad. Among them is Conference USA Freshman of the Year Sam Skinner. Skinner was second on the team in kills with 253. She was named to the Preseason All-C-USA Team.

Also returning from last season's starting lineup is libero Rachel Fairbanks and outside hitter Ally Slaughter, both seniors this year. Fairbanks tallied 653 digs last season and was second on the team with 25 service aces. Slaughter led the team in aces with 28 and added 183 kills.

Fresh Faces  

The Green and Gold added two transfers in the offseason that will help fill holes left by the five seniors from last season. Bethanie Thomas joined the team after leaving South Carolina. Thomas is a versatile outside hitter that will challenge for a starting role. Sara Rishell was the Patriot League Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in her first season at American University. She will look to make an immediate impact as a middle blocker.

UAB also brought in four freshmen that will challenge for time on the court. They are Gabby Deshotel, Mandy Glon, Hannah Kowal and Amber Treace. Look to see all four be called upon throughout the season.

Blazers Against the Field

The Green and Gold's opening match against Mercer will be the ninth meeting between the two teams. UAB holds a 7-1 record against the Bears.

The Blazers are 0-2 against Minnesota. The Gophers come in ranked sixth in the AVCA Preseason Poll. Since Messersmith took over in 2006, UAB holds a 4-5 record against ranked-opponents.

Saturday's match will mark the first meeting between UAB and Presbyterian. The Blue Hose became a Division I program in 2007.

UAB will meet Jacksonville State for the 21st time in school history. The two teams faced off in 2012 in the Active Ankle Challenge. The Blazers won in three sets to improve their record to 13-7 against the Dolphins.

For the latest news on Blazer sports, follow the UAB Athletics Twitter account: @UABathletics. For volleyball news, follow @UAB_VB.