The No. 16 Truman volleyball team will take the floor for a season-opener, beginning this Friday and Saturday with four matches at the GVSU Riverfront Hotel Grand Rapids Classic in Allendale, Michigan. The Bulldogs, coming off a 27-7 season in 2012, return five starters and 10 letterwinners for the program's inaugural season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Before getting to conference play two weeks from now, however, the Bulldogs will tackle one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation.
Eight of the team's 10 scheduled non-conference matches during the regular season will be against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA preseason top-25 coaches' poll. Kicking off the slate is a match the Bulldogs have had circled since Nov. 29, 2012, when Southwest Minnesota State halted the Truman season with a 3-0 win in the opening round of the NCAA Central regional.
The Mustangs, ranked sixth in the nation, are the Bulldogs' first opponent of 2013, getting the season underway at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 6. From there, the Bulldogs will take on three opponents for the first time in program history, beginning with Friday's nightcap against Saint Leo (Fla.).
Truman then faces Eckerd (Fla.) College, a squad picked second in the Sunshine State Conference preseason poll and received votes in the AVCA top-25 at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday.
The Bulldogs then close the event later that afternoon against Adelphi (N.Y.). Truman enters the weekend as one of two Great Lakes Valley Conference programs ranked in the top-25, sitting at No. 16 in the preseason poll.
The Bulldogs were also picked by league coaches to win the West Division of league action.
'Dogs Returning Experienced â?? and Accomplished â?? Squad:
Truman will send out five returning all-MIAA performers for the 2013 season, including first-team junior OH Allie Brak and conference freshman of the year, sophomore OPP Abby Heise.
Junior setter Meghan Zimmerman, junior libero Abby Moser and sophomore middle hitter Ali Patterson also return looking for consecutive all-league accolades. Briney Nearing Century Mark:
With four more wins, head coach Ben Briney will become just the fourth coach in Truman volleyball history to reach 100 career victories on the sideline.
His .696 winning percentage entering the season is third-best all-time, with the coach having totaled 233 total wins (.785 winning percentage) at Truman spanning his four seasons as an assistant before taking over as the head coach in 2009. Eyeing the Career Charts:
Two junior specialists have the opportunity to move up the career charts this weekend, as junior setter Meghan Zimmerman needs 112 total assists to tie Kylie Easlon (2,050; 2008-2011) for 8th all-time in total assists.
Meanwhile, junior libero Abby Moser needs 60 digs to reach Truman's all-time top-ten in that career category, as she would surpass Janelle Zehr (1,304; 1997-2000). Moser is currently the program's all-time digs-per-set leader at 4.83, more than three-tenths of a dig ahead of Casey Bruno (4.50; 2007-2010) in second-place.
Courtesy Truman State University