UNO got what it wanted in its opening match of the volleyball season.
Now the Mavericks want to make it last for an entire weekend.
UNO plays host to the Omaha Marriott Classic at Sapp Fieldhouse, with matches scheduled against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 6 p.m. Friday and then Saturday contests with Southern Utah at 11 a.m. and Bradley at 5 p.m.
Last weekend in Houston, the Mavs knocked off host Houston Baptist in the Friday night opener, but stumbled against Texas-Pan American and Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.
“Houston Baptist finished (117) places better than us in the RPI last year, but we came out and played at a really high level,” UNO coach Rose Shires said. “Our passing was on, and that kept our setter in the box, and then we literally owned the net.
“On Saturday, we didn’t play at the same level. We made errors that we didn’t make on Friday. Our youth showed and we weren’t able to play back-to-back-to-back at the same level. But we still did some great things.”
Houston Baptist, which finished 137th in the RPI last year, bounced back on Saturday to beat both Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas-Pan American, who finished No. 196 and No. 280 last season.
This weekend UNO, which finished No. 254 in the RPI ratings, has three opponents who were more or less on its level last season. SIUE finished at No. 283, Southern Utah at No. 236 and Bradley at No. 235.
“We have to play at a high level for three matches in a row,” Shires said. “Our mental focus, and the focus for any of the teams we’re competing against, is to make fewer errors. At this point in the season, teams are still figuring things out, and it’s a matter of minimizing errors and seeing which team can work through mistakes faster.”
SIUE (0-3) was picked to finish fourth in its division of the Ohio Valley Conference after going 9-18 overall and 5-11 in the OVC last year. The Cougars’ early-season matches include a five-set loss to Indiana State, picked to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Southern Utah (0-3) is picked to finish ninth in the 11-team Big Sky Conference after going 12-20 overall and 8-12 in the Big Sky last year.
Bradley (2-1) was picked to finish ninth in the Valley after going 9-20 overall and 3-15 in league matches. The Braves, who beat UNO twice in 2011, have an early four-set win over Western Illinois, the preseason pick to finish seventh in the eight-team Summit League. UNO is picked to finish last in the Summit.
The Mavs got strong first-weekend performances from sophomore middle blocker Megan Schmale — who made the all-tournament team after averaging 1.8 kills per set while hitting .333 and adding 1.2 bocks per set — sophomore outside hitter Kelley Wollak (3.2 kills, 3.1 digs) and sophomore libero Kimberly Bailey (4.7 digs).
Shires is hoping to see another step forward this weekend.
“I’m really looking to see our freshmen impact the outcome of the match more, now that our first-game jitters are out of the way,” she said.