The season kicks off at noon today as the Sugar Bears take on a Northern Arizona (live stats) team that returns 10 players from last year’s 8-17 (5-10) season. The Lumberjacks were picked seventh in the Big Sky preseason poll. NAU started the 2009 season win a 3-1 win over Boise State. On paper, it would take a near-perfect effort for that to happen again – but it is just the first match of the season.
Tonight at 7, they will face a very experienced host in Wyoming (live stats). All six starters return for the Cowgirls. They finished just 13-18 (3-13) in the Mountain West in 2009. They do have the MWC Freshman of the Year, outside hitter Jodi Purdy, leading their offensive attack. Her numbers weren’t that different from Chloe Smith’s. Purdy led the Cowgirls with a 3.43 kills per set average, while adding 2.53 digs and 28 service aces. Chloe’s numbers were 4.46/1.99/29. The matches that include the host will be video streamed online.
The schedule for Saturday starts with another noon match, this one against the Murray State Racers (live stats). They struggled in non-conference play – losing 10 straight to start the season and had an overall 13-18 record, but finished at 11-7 in the Ohio Valley. They reached the semi-finals of the conference tournament and have been picked to finish third in the OVC this year. They return the OVC Defensive Player of the Year in Kayleah Sauer. The Racers are return the bulk of their team. And their new libero comes in with high expectations from the coaching staff. The Racers started 0-1 already in the tournament as they lost this morning to Southern Utah. . .
who will be the final match for the Sugar Bears tomorrow at 6 p.m. (live stats) Southern Utah was 9-20 (7-12) last season in the Summit League. They are another team that returns all six starters. Sophomore Analaine Pelaez is their leader offensively, and the Sugar Bears will face another conference freshman of the year. Pelaez led the conference in kills per set at 4.18. They began the 2009 season in the Sam Houston State tournament and lost to the host 2-3.
The good news on paper is that the Sugar Bears are the only team that had a winning overall record last season. It’s certainly not out of the question to start the season 4-0.