UNO’s volleyball assignment this weekend at the Lion Classic in Hammond, La., is to square off against four teams similar to itself.
Louisiana Tech, Southeastern Louisiana, Stetson and Southern were a combined 22-101 last season. Take Southeastern Louisiana’s 11-19 out and the other three were 11-82. And, among 330 Division I teams, Southern (324), Stetson (311) and Louisiana Tech (308) were close to the bottom in the final RPI rankings.
Southeastern Louisiana finished last year at No. 246, while UNO was No. 254 after going 6-22 in its second year in Division I.
All of UNO’s weekend opponents — and UNO itself — are expecting better things this season.
“All of us have improved from where we were a year ago,” UNO coach Rose Shires said. “And we’re all in the same position. We’re definitely building and are programs that are looking forward to the future.”
UNO plays at 11 a.m. Friday against a 4-4 Louisiana Tech team that has already surpassed its win total from last year’s 3-27 finish. The Mavs play the host Lions at 5 p.m., though Southeastern Louisiana is a little behind schedule at 2-6 following an 11-19 season in 2012.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, the Mavericks play a 5-3 Stetson team that was 4-31 last year. And in its 3 p.m. finale, UNO plays a Southern team that is 1-5 this year after going 4-24.
While there are some apparent winnable matches for the 1-5 Mavs, that was also the case last weekend when they went 0-3 at home.
“Last Friday (in a three-set loss to Southern Utah), I was disappointed with our competitiveness,” Shires said. “But Saturday we came back and competed at a much higher level (in a five-set loss to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and a four-set loss to Bradley) and just didn’t finish matches off.
“Bradley was definitely better, but I’m pleased that we took a set and competed from beginning to end. That’s something we have to work on, especially with a young team — when another teams presses us, can we stay the course and not fold under the pressure?”
Sophomore Megan Schmale made her second straight all-tournament team. She ranks second in the Summit League with a .357 hitting percentage. As a team, the Mavs lead the Summit in digs (15.8 per set) and blocks (2.7).