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Youjin Jenny Jang / Senior Staff Photographer

Columbia will take on Bucknell, Stony Brook, and Fairfield this weekend.

The Light Blue volleyball team kicks off the 2014 season on its home court this weekend with the Columbia Invitational.

Under the direction of rookie head coach Brie Katz, the Lions will host Bucknell, Stony Brook, and Fairfield in the first of three pre-Ivy season tournaments.

The Lions had a tough 2013 season, with multiple losses during the injury-plagued final weeks, dropping the Light Blue to a sixth-place Ivy finish. But with a 13-4 record in their home tournament, the Lions have a shot at starting the schedule off on a high note and winning their first match for the first time in five years.

Katz said the squad's struggles have given it the opportunity to grow and learn more about itself.  

“It's made them tougher and a little bit grittier, and I think that the team knows that nothing's going to come for free,” Katz said. “They have to work hard for everything, and I think all the adversity we faced last year sent that message to not take anything for granted.”

The Lions have honed in on particular areas of their game to tune up for the weekend, including serve-receives and setter-hitter communication. Most of this preparation has involved finding cohesion on the court through effective lineups.

“This first part of the season is about finding our best combination of people on the court at any given moment,” Katz said. “It's about figuring out how to maximize our strengths and put our best effort on the court for any given rotation.”  

The Light Blue kicks off the Columbia Invitational with a match against Bucknell on Friday at 7:30 p.m., followed by Columbia's first-ever matchup against Stony Brook at noon on Saturday. The tournament wraps up at Levien with the Fairfield match at 7:00 p.m. | @KellyReller

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