UND volleyball trying to stave off complacency
The UND volleyball team tied a program record with 26 wins in 2016, but Fighting Hawks coach Mark Pryor isn't interested in keeping the status quo. "I think with where we are at it's nice to have that familiarity, but we have to get out of our co...
The UND volleyball team tied a program record with 26 wins in 2016, but Fighting Hawks coach Mark Pryor isn't interested in keeping the status quo.
"I think with where we are at it's nice to have that familiarity, but we have to get out of our comfort zone," Pryor said. "We have to challenge ourselves not to be the same. This is going to be a different entity. It can't be the same because the same won't be good enough."
UND's 2017 season begins Aug. 25, when the team travels to the Rebel Invitational in Oxford, Miss., for matches against Chattanooga, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech and Florida A&M.
The Fighting Hawks lose just one starter from a team that qualified for the program's first NCAA tournament last year.
UND, picked to repeat as Big Sky Conference champion in the preseason poll, loses just one starter in Chelsea Moser, who was a senior.
The Fighting Hawks return three all-Big Sky first team picks in senior setter Sydney Griffin (Big Sky player of the year), senior middle hitter Faith Dooley (three-time all-Big Sky) and Tamara Merseli (2016 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year).
Looking to fill the void of Moser is Baylor transfer Jordan Vail and true freshman Lydia Rutten, of New York Mills.
Redshirt freshman Amelia Johnson of Roseau is also pushing for playing time at a hitter position, Pryor said.
"Everyone has areas where they can get better," Pryor said. "We really didn't know we'd have a chance to win (the Big Sky) until the last day of the season, so to worry about October and November right now doesn't make sense.
"Let's worry about the first weekend. That's why we designed so many matches in the first two weeks. We want to put these kids in different situations and see how they respond."
Pryor, now in his fourth season at UND, is the reigning Big Sky Coach of the Year and owns a 73-32 mark in Grand Forks.
"We're excited, setting that high standard for the incoming freshmen," said UND sophomore Alivia Fraase, a Fargo native who had 583 digs last year (second-most in UND history). "Practices have been brought to a new level. It's exciting to see where our level is at in the beginning of the season compared to my other years here."