What you need to know:
*The Panthers open up the home slate this weekend with three matches over two days at the GSU Sports Arena.
*Georgia State will face Sam Houston State Friday, before facing Chicago State and Ole Miss on Saturday.
*GSU enters the weekend ranked first in the Sun Belt in digs per set and second in opponent hitting percentage.
ATLANTA- After six straight matches away from home to begin the 2018 season, Georgia State volleyball is finally back in the GSU Sports Arena this weekend. The Panthers open up the home slate with three matches over two days as part of the GSU Invitational, hosting Sam Houston State, Chicago State, and Ole Miss.
The action packed weekend kicks off Friday at 4:00 pm with Chicago State facing Mississippi. Fans will get their first look at GSU when the Panthers battle Sam Houston State at 6:30 pm. On Saturday, Georgia State takes on Chicago State at noon and Ole Miss at 6:30 pm. The Rebels will play Sam Houston State at 10:00 am, and the Cougars and Bearkats will finish the weekend against one another at 4:00 pm.
The Sally Polhamus led Panthers will enter the tournament with a 2-4 overall record, and having already knocked off one SEC school from the Magnolia State. Ole Miss and Chicago State are both riding hot streaks into the invitational. Mississippi (6-1) is a winner of their last five matches, and is coming off a 4-0 weekend at their own Rebel Invitational. The Cougars (4-4) are on a three-match win streak highlighted by a victory over cross-town rival, University of Illinois at Chicago. The Bearkats are 3-3, fresh off a 1-2 weekend at Louisiana.
Friday will mark the first time in program history that the Panthers have met the Bearkats. Georgia State was a winner in their only meeting (2010) against Chicago State, and is 0-2 all time against Ole Miss with the last match coming in 1997.
A strong defense has been key for the Panthers early on this season. GSU ranks second in the Sun Belt (32nd) nationally with a .143 opponent hitting percentage. The Panthers are first in the conference and 19th in the NCAA with 17.80 digs per set.
Lauren Bandera has led the way for Georgia State on the defensive front with 70 digs, while sophomore Kinkaid Padgett has recorded double-digit digs in three straight matches and has 63 pickups on the year. Meishiea Griffin’s 18 blocks are a team high, and place her in the Sun Belt’s top ten.
Admission to all matches this weekend is free. As a reminder, construction of the Courtland St. Bridge is ongoing. Parking for the matches is still available via G Deck, but we encourage fans to allow extra time to navigate the construction.
Chicago State vs. Ole Miss- 4:00 pm
Georgia State vs. Sam Houston State- 6:30 pm
Ole Miss vs. Sam Houston State- 10:00 am
Georgia State vs. Chicago State 12:00 pm
Chicago State vs. Sam Houston State- 4:00 pm
Georgia State vs. Ole Miss- 6:30 pm
For more news and notes follow @GeorgiaStateVB on Twitter.