LOCAL COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Fresh off win in home opener, ASU volleyball hosts rival VSU tonight

Albany State volleyball coach Robert Skinner and his girls host a big match tonight at 6 p.m. against Valdosta State at HPER Gym.

Albany State volleyball coach Robert Skinner and his girls host a big match tonight at 6 p.m. against Valdosta State at HPER Gym.

ALBANY -- Robert Skinner didn't have to think long about the question.

"When was the last time we beat Valdosta?" Albany State's longtime head volleyball coach repeated. "Man ... it's been a minute."

So is today's 6 p.m. home showdown at HPER Gym between two of the top college teams in Georgia a winnable one?

"Yes it is," he added just as quickly. "I know we can (beat them). We just have to come out and play aggressive."

Playing aggressive is how ASU improved to 9-6 over the weekend with a 3-0 shutout of Paine College in the Lady Rams' home opener as freshman Sharme Ridley (outside hitter), junior Jennifer Johnson (back row) and senior captain Sabrina Garcia (outside hitter) led the way.

"(Those three have) all been playing real well for us right now," said Skinner, who hopes to use tonight's VSU match to tune up for the SIAC season that begins in early November, which will be followed by the Lady Rams hosting the SIAC Tournament at the end of the month for the first time in four years.

In the shutout of Paine, Ridley finished with a team-high 10 kills and six digs, while Garcia -- a First-Team All-SIAC selection a season ago --had six kills and two digs. Johnson led with the Lady Rams with 18 digs, and Kenya Jolicoeurr and Desiree Hardy led the way with 17 and 16 assists, respectively.

ASU CROSS COUNTRY RUNNERS HONORED: An Albany State Lady Ram was named the SIAC's Female Runner of the Week for the East Division recently. Brittany Carter received the SIAC honor this past week after her performance in the Morehouse College Invitational, held Sept. 24, in Atlanta. A senior, Carter led the Lady Rams to a first-place finish after running the 5K meet with a time of 20:49.14.

Two other Lady Rams, freshmen Olivia Traylor and Kanetria Kitchens, received the SIAC's Top Seven Weekly Cross Country Performers honors.

Traylor had the fourth-best time of the week of the East Division women's teams. She finished with a time of 22:39.60, while Kitchens finished seventh in the meet with a time of 23:09.98.

GSW RUNNERS SHINE AT DARTON INVITATIONAL: The Lady Hurricanes finished second place at the Darton Invitational over the weekend.

The Lady Hurricanes were paced by sophomore Lisa Espino, who finished in third overall with a time of 22:10 Her third-place finish is the highest-ever individual finish by a Hurricane runner during the NCAA Division II era. The Lyons native's finish was GSW's first top five-finish since teammate Kelsey Baker's fourth-place finish in last year's Darton Invitational.

The Blue & Gold had three other runners finish in the Top 15 with Micah Bucher (11th), Kelsey Baker (14th) and former Southland star Mollie McGowan (15th) all finishing within two minutes of Espino.

DARTON WOMEN'S RUNNERS WIN OWN MEET: Darton had the top two individual finishers at its home invitational with Sha Wright and Jeronda Stringfield. Wright won the race with a time of 21:09, which was 19 seconds faster than her teammate Stringfield.