Aztec volleyball set for annual Invitational

SDSU Womens Volleyball

by Jack Haworth, Contributor

The San Diego State volleyball team will be looking for their first win this weekend at the annual Aztec Invitational.

The Aztecs returned home on Monday after dropping the first three matches of the season in the Chevron Wahine Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

On Friday the Aztecs fell to No. 25 Arizona State in three sets (25-18, 25-21 and 25-14). The Aztecs came out strong against Ohio on Saturday in the first set winning 23-25, but then lost the next three sets by scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-22 to lose the match.

In the last match of the tournament SDSU went up against 17th ranked Hawai’i hoping to pull off an upset. However, those dreams were quickly erased as the Rainbow Wahine took care of the Aztecs in four sets (25-16, 25-17, 23-25 and 25-14).

However despite not getting a win, head coach Deitre Collins-Parker remained positive about the Aztecs season going forward.

“We faced tough competition and played well for having such a young squad,” Collins-Parker said. “We just need to get healthy, we have had people beat up all pre-season.”

The Aztec squad is indeed very young considering that six of the eleven players who played against ASU on Friday, were making their collegiate debut.

The Aztec’s 2014 recruiting class for this year was ranked 25th in the nation by and includes two Gatorade Players of the Year.

Of those is freshman Courtney Eckenrode, a 5-9 setter from The Woodlands High School in Texas. She was named Texas Gatorade Player of the Year as well as 2013 National Player of the Year by both USA Today and MaxPreps.

In addition to a strong recruiting class, the Aztecs will also be bringing back five redshirts for the 2014 campaign.

These young Aztecs will have to learn quickly though because the four-team Aztec Invitational begins this Friday and goes through the weekend.

The first matchup puts the Aztecs up against Brown University on Friday night. However the Aztecs may have a physical advantage in this match, considering Brown will be playing USD earlier in the day.

On Saturday night, San Diego State will be facing Villanova who is off to a strong start this season after winning all three matches in their season-opening James Madison Tournament.

Finally in the last match of the tournament, the Aztecs will host a Cal State Fullerton team on Sunday that is off to a 2-1 start this season.

Senior right side hitter Chaiymin Steel believes the last match of the weekend may be the toughest test for the young Aztec team. “Cal State Fullerton is a very strong team and will be tough to face,” said Steel.

The Aztecs do have one big advantage and that is being able to play at home. In the past three seasons, the Aztecs are an impressive 35-5 at home, including a modest five match win streak.

Several players are also excited about the new renovations to Peterson Gym that include a new floor, bleachers, doors and a 25-foot ceiling fan.

“It makes it more homey and the floor is very nice,” Steel said. “It helps with our impact which is important because in this sport we’re always jumping.”

The Aztecs will look to use the brand new home court to their advantage when they face Brown on Friday at 7:00 PM in Peterson Gym.