Toledo continues the non-conference portion of its 2012 campaign this weekend when it heads north to Rochester, MI to compete in the Golden Grizzlies Invitational. The Rockets will open the tournament on Friday, Aug. 31 against host Oakland before taking on Iowa and Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 1.
UT (1-2) is looking to bounce back from dropping two of three matches at Ohio State's Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic. The Rockets began the tourney with a 3-2 victory over Houston before dropping 3-0 decisions to No. 20 Oregon and No. 24 OSU.
Junior MB Dakota Harkins earned all-tournament team honors after leading Toledo with a .300 attack percentage and 1.1 blocks per set and ranking second with 2.00 kills per set. She posted 13 kills, five blocks and a .385 hitting mark in UT's season-opening win over Houston and followed that up with a weekend-best six blocks vs. the Ducks. She wrapped up her weekend with an impressive .500 ATK% against the Buckeyes.
The Golden Grizzles (0-3) were swept in their three matches last weekend by host No. 22 Kansas State, Oregon State and UC-Irvine at the Varney's Invitational. Oakland ranked third nationally in digs last year and won a school-record 18 matches. Senior OH Meghan Bray has posted a team-high 3.78 kps with 2.89 dps.
Iowa (3-1) defeated Chicago State (3-0), South Dakota State (3-1) and Valparaiso (3-1) and lost to Southeast Missouri (3-2) at its Hawkeye Challenge last weekend. Junior OH Rachael Bedell and sophomore OH Alex Lovell are the Hawkeyes' top two offensive performers with 3.44 and 3.38 kps, respectively.
Eastern Illinois (2-1) sandwiched wins over DePaul (3-1) and Indiana State (3-2) with a 3-0 setback to Butler at last weekend's DePaul Invitational. The Panthers are being led offensively by a pair of preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selections, senior OH Emily Franklin (3.00 kps) and senior OH Alison Berens (2.83 kps, .315 ATK%).
Following is the schedule for this weekend with all matches to be played in Oakland's Athletics Center O-Rena (3,000):
FRIDAY, AUG. 31
Eastern Illinois vs. Iowa, 4:30 p.m.
Oakland vs. Toledo, 7:00 p.m.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 1
Iowa vs. Toledo, 10:00 a.m.
Oakland vs. Eastern Illinois, Noon
Eastern Illinois vs. Toledo, 4:30 p.m.
Iowa vs. Oakland, 7:00 p.m.
HARKINS CONTINUES MOMENTUM
Junior MB Dakota Harkins picked up where she left off from the 2011 campaign with a strong season-opening weekend.
Harkins led the Rockets in attack percentage (.300) and blocks per set (1.09) and ranked second in kills per set (2.00).
Harkins notched a .413 ATK% (53-10-104) and 1.05 bps over her last five matches last year to end the season ranked seventh in the Mid-American Conference with a school-record .321 attack percentage.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Four different Rockets led the team in kills during UT's season-opening weekend.
Dakota Harkins paced Toledo with 13 kills vs. Houston, and Becca Reidy led the way with seven terminations against Oregon. Jordan Kielty and Lauren Rafdal shared team kill honors with eight apiece vs. Ohio State.
SETTER JOB UP FOR GRABS
Junior Adria Pryor and freshman Alex Hines split setting duties for the Rockets in their opening weekend. Pryor averaged 7.25 aps, while Hines contributed 4.14 aps in her collegiate debut.
Toledo's starting setter the last four years was three-time second-team All-MAC honoree Kassie Kadera, who finished her Rocket career ranked second with 4,853 assists.
Sophomore Mariah Truscinski (Toledo, OH) has joined the Rockets' active roster after beginning the 2012 campaign as team manager. Truscinski, who averaged 1.75 dps and ranked second on team with 12 service aces at DePaul last year, originally planned to attend UT and not play volleyball.
A 2011 St Ursula Academy graduate, Truscinski joins four newcomers — sophomore Allison Griffiths and freshmen Celina Diaz, Alex Hines, Daiva Wise — on the Rockets' roster. She helped the Arrows to the 2010 state title in her senior campaign.
ROCKETS VS. THE FIELD
Toledo leads its all-time series vs. Oakland by an 8-2 margin, including a 3-1 triumph over the Golden Grizzlies in UT's Blue-Gold Invitational last year. The Rockets will be meeting Iowa for the first time in program history...UT is 2-1 vs. Eastern Illinois with all three of their matches taking place on the Panthers' homecourt.
A LOOK AHEAD
Toledo will host its 11th-annual Rocket Classic next weekend with Florida Gulf Coast, Illinois State and Memphis visiting the Glass City. UT will open play against the Tigers at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7 followed by matchups against the Redbirds and Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Noon and 7:30 p.m., respectively.