The 2011 women's college volleyball season gets under way today, with a slew of tournaments across the country. The marquee event is the annual AVCA Showcase tournament, being held this year at Penn State. The format of this competition brings together four teams, a pair from each of two conferences. This year's conferences are the Big 10, from which Penn State and Minnesota will be participating, and the Pac 12, represented by USC and Oregon.
All matches are cross-conference. Tonight's matches are Penn State vs Oregon and Minnesota vs. USC. Saturday night, Minnesota faces Oregon, plus the pre-season No. 1 Nittany Lions square off with the No. 2 Trojans.
If you scroll down to my conference previews in earlier entries, you can see capsule summaries of the four teams. One update for USC is that outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana has been declared ineligible. Also, in Trojan coach Mick Haley's "At the Net" video broadcasts (here and here), he has alluded to middle blocker Alexis Olgard apparently having some lingering injury problems, but incoming frosh MB's Eve Ettinger and Hannah Schraer looking ready to contribute immediately.
For Penn State, the storyline for this upcoming season has been framed in terms of sophomore OH Deja McClendon taking over team leadership.
After tonight's matches are over, I plan to scrutinize the box scores to see what I can glean to preview Saturday night's big Penn State-USC match.