By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Sept. 07, 2012) -- The Black Knights women's volleyball team will compete Friday evening and Saturday in the inaugural Armed Forces Tournament at the Pentagon.
The U.S. Military Academy cadets from West Point, N.Y., begin competition in the Pentagon Athletic Center at 7 p.m., Friday, against cadets from the Citadel, S.C. During the tournament, the Black Knights will also play against the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Denver.
The team came down to Washington, D.C., Thursday from West Point and prepared with about 45 minutes of practice at the Pentagon. They also met with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno and took a tour of the Pentagon with a former Black Knights player, who is now an Army officer working on Capitol Hill.
"I think that yesterday's event got the team more exited to play in the tournament," said Tracy Nelson, the sports information director for the team. "It's a real honor to be playing alongside cadets and other service academy attendees, other than themselves. They are really looking forward to repressing West Point."
This is the first such tournament being held in the Pentagon, but the fourth time the military service academies are competing in such a challenge. A special "sport court" will be put down in the Pentagon Athletic Center for the tournament, Nelson said, possibly featuring an American flag.
The tournament actually begins Friday at 2:30 p.m. with Citadel vs. Denver. At 5 p.m., Air Force takes on Navy; and at 7 p.m., the Black Knights take on Citadel.
On Saturday, competition kicks off again at 9 a.m., when Denver goes head-to-head with the Navy; at 11 a.m., the Air Force takes on the Citadel; and at 1 p.m., Denver is again on the court, this time against the Black Knights. Two more games round out the two-day tournament, including Navy vs. Citadel at 3 p.m., and finally, Air Force vs. the Black Knights at 5 p.m.
The two-day tournament is part of NCAA competition, Nelson said, and the games played at the Pentagon will all be counted in the team's overall season record, which now stands at 4-3.
"We're playing really well right now," Nelson said. "We're also getting closer to Patriot League play, it begins in two weeks. American (University), also in the Patriot League, is favored to win, but the Army is right there. And this tournament is a huge tune-up for the team, with league play starting so soon. This has to be one of the most unique tournaments in the country right now."
Nelson said that during this tournament, the Army will not play the Navy, because both of the teams are in the Patriot League, and that league's rules prohibit the teams from playing each other outside the league games.