UND sweeps the weekend, wins Rebel Invitational
OXFORD, Miss.--UND won the Big Sky Conference volleyball title last season and is picked to win the league again this season. But how good are the Fighting Hawks outside of the Big Sky? They're pretty good, evidenced by their performance this wee...
OXFORD, Miss.-UND won the Big Sky Conference volleyball title last season and is picked to win the league again this season.
But how good are the Fighting Hawks outside of the Big Sky?
They're pretty good, evidenced by their performance this weekend. UND won the Rebel Invitational in Oxford, Miss., going 4-0 after taking down Louisiana Tech and Florida A&M by identical 3-2 scores on Saturday.
"I've got a bunch of very, very tired and very, very happy kids," said UND coach Mark Pryor.
UND's reward for winning the tournament? A nearly five-hour bus ride to Atlanta, Ga., where the Hawks will take on Georgia Tech of the ACC today.
UND's schedule to start the season is challenging, to say the least. To start the season, the Hawks will be in eight states in nine days playing 10 matches.
That schedule, said Pryor, was done by design.
"We want to use these first two weeks as a reflection to see where we're at and what we need to improve," he said. "We'll figure it out and then take the next two weeks to gear up for the conference."
UND senior Faith Dooley, who set the program's career record for blocks Friday against Ole Miss, was named the tournament MVP. Jordan Vail and Tamara Merseli also were named to the all-tournament team.
Against Florida A&M, Dooley tied her career high with 18 kills.
In both matches Saturday, UND had to come from behind. Against Ole Miss on Friday, the Fighting Hawks stormed back from a 2-0 deficit.
"Friday night was very emotional for us," said Pryor. "For us to come back the next day with not a lot of rest and not a lot of recovery time and to gut out two wins is pretty special.
"I'm really pleased and appreciative of our kids understanding what we're doing and embracing the challenge of playing so much in the first two weeks."
After downing Florida A&M, the team grabbed a quick bite to eat and hit the highway for Georgia Tech, but not before drawing a few comments from those in Oxford.
"Everyone here said, 'You're going to do what? Drive to Atlanta?' " Pryor said. "I said, 'Do you know where we live? Our closest conference opponent is a 12-and-a-half hour bus ride.' "
The win over Ole Miss came against a Power Five opponent, but UND has a handful of wins against such programs.
Tech will provide another challenge, said Pryor.
"They're a Power 5 school, too; they're in the ACC and they're at home," he said. "That's a pretty big advantage. And it'll be a loud environment. But, once your college career is over, you don't get it back. We want our kids to experience as much as possible."
UND returns home after today's match before hitting the road for five matches next week in New Mexico and Texas.
Pryor said he felt good before the weekend matches in Oxford. A message he received Friday morning was a good sign.
"I woke up Friday morning and was told that I was the cheerful person of the week in Marilyn Hagerty's column in the Herald," said Pryor. "As soon as I heard that, I knew it was going to be a good day."