Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 03:08
The UNC volleyball team has prepared for the first weekend of the Hampton Inn & Suites Northern Colorado Classic, with the home-opener for the team coming against Oklahoma at 7 p.m. today at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
The University of Northern Colorado (3-0) will also be facing Air Force (1-2) and North Dakota State (0-3) Saturday at noon and 7 p.m., respectively.
“This weekend will show what we still need to work on and what we need to develop further for the season,” senior outside hitter Kelley Arnold said.
Today will mark the second time in UNC history it will face the Sooners (3-0). The Bears lost the last match in 1981.
“One of our biggest goals is to knock off some of these top teams,” Arnold said.
The Bears were able to knock off the Big 12’s Texas Christian University in four sets last weekend and will look to do similar against this weekend’s opponents.
UNC head coach Lyndsey Oates, who won the 2011 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year award, said she is looking forward to the tournament this weekend and said the team’s strength during the Classic will come from the veteran players.
“With it being so early in the season, we’re going to rely on our veterans to pull us through a couple of key situations,” Oates said. “When those key situations arrive, we will need that veteran leadership.”
Among the veteran talent, Arnold had 24 kills and hit .465 during last season’s Classic, when he Bears played Air Force last. The Bears won, 3-1.
The Bears are 51-3 all-time against the Falcons.
Not only do the Bears have a number of strengths, but they also will be facing more challenges over the weekend, something Oates said was lacking during the Belmont Invitational.
“We weren’t challenged last week, as I wish we would have been a little bit,” Oates said. “So we’re going to see a lot better blocking this weekend, with better athletes in the middle — which we aren’t as prepared for as I’d like to be — but in the next couple of days we’ll get there.”