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Pat Gallagher/The Valdosta Daily Times Valdosta State University's Niki Patriarca (11) sets the ball as Chelsea Logan (1) comes in to assist during play action against the Eckerd Tritons Wednesday evening at the Complex.

VALDOSTA — After dropping its first three matches of the Gulf Conference season, Valdosta State volleyball gets a break in the conference schedule, but won’t get a break in level of competition this weekend.

Starting Friday, VSU will host the Courtyard by Marriot VSU Crossover tournament pitting five GSC schools against four Sunshine Conference Schools.

Valdosta State, West Georgia, Montevallo, West Alabama and Alabama Huntsville will represent the GSC, while Lynn University, Florida Tech, Saint Leo and Rollins College come from the Sunshine Conference.

All teams represent the Southeast Region, which will carry weight when the playoffs are scheduled as Division II breaks up its postseason according to play in the region schedule.

“All the Sunshine Conference schools are tough,” VSU coach Sia Poyer said. “They are very, very important matches for all the schools because they are all region games.”

The Lady Blazers begin their turn in the tournament Friday when they take on Florida Tech at 1 p.m. The Lady Blazers and the Panthers met earlier in the year, as Florida Tech claimed a home victory 3-2 on Sept. 5.

Later in the day, VSU will compete in its second match, taking on Rollins at 6 p.m.

The Lady Blazers then take on Lynn at 11 a.m. Saturday, before facing the No. 22 ranked Saint Leo Lions at 4 p.m.

Like Florida Tech, it will be the second time VSU faces Saint Leo this season. On Sept. 6, Saint Leo defeated the Lady Blazers 3-1.

“Both are good teams,” Poyer said. “Obviously we know that because we’ve seen them and played against them.”

The matchups will be a little different this time however, as VSU is without its outside hitter in Morgan Wyatt.

The Lady Blazers are now going with a younger lineup featuring as many as four freshmen on the court at a time.

“It’s a challenge,” Poyer said. “I don’t even mention it any more, because it gets kind of old. It’s just how it is right now. We don’t have much of a choice.”

The Lady Blazers’ young team started to come together after a big win against then-No. 1 ranked in the Peachbelt Conference Newberry on Sept. 13, which was part of a four-game winning streak.

However, VSU then dropped three-straight conference matches including falling Tuesday to West Florida 3-0.

“Up until this past weekend we were playing really, really well,” Poyer said. “I thought we were ready for conference.”

VSU will look to get itself ready for conference once again as it plays in what Poyer hopes will be a yearly tournament between the GSC and Sunshine Conference.

“We need to keep working hard in practice, and we need to step up against these good teams,” Poyer said.

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