Tribe Invitational Information:
Opponent: Campbell (Friday, Aug. 30/1:00 p.m.)
Opponent: San Jose State (Saturday, Aug. 31/9:00 a.m.)
Opponent: William & Mary (Saturday, Aug. 31/4:00 p.m.)
Location: Williamsburg, Va.
Live Stats: www.tribeathletics.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The 2013 Northern Arizona volleyball season begins this weekend at the Tribe Invitational hosted by William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. The Lumberjacks are coming off a season in which they finished third in the Big Sky in 2012 with a 24-7 overall mark. Led by first-year head coach Ken Murphy, the Lumberjacks aim to be better than their fifth-place predicted finish in the Preseason Big Sky Coaches Poll.
Murphy returns three all-conference performers in junior Sydney Kemper and sophomores Payton Bock and Janae Vander Ploeg and welcomes four newcomers to the 2013 team. The team hopes to continue its recent success in preseason non-conference tournaments this weekend having won five of its last six tourneys. NAU will open the season on Friday, Aug. 30 against Campbell and will play San Jose State and William & Mary on Saturday, Aug. 31 before returning home for next weekend's annual Fiesta Bowl Tournament.
Series History: The Lumberjacks will be meeting Campbell for the second time in school history, winning the first meeting, 3-0, in 2000. NAU and San Jose State will be meeting for the fourth time with the Spartans leading the all-time series 2-1. The Lumberjacks won the previous meeting in 2011, 3-0, as part of the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Flagstaff. NAU and William & Mary meet for the third time. The Lumberjacks hold a 2-0 advantage in the series winning the last meeting in 1998, 3-0.
Coach Ken Murphy Quote for the Week: "We don't know a ton about the teams we're playing but we just need to worry about ourselves. Our team has a really good focus on applying the things we've been learning the last couple of weeks. If we can go through the weekend and improve on those areas and understanding our style of play, I'll feel good about it. We want to play our style of volleyball for three matches and wins will take care of themselves when you play to your level."
About Campbell (7-24, 0-14 Big South in 2012): Campbell enters a new era of its own in 2013 as it is now under the direction of Greg Goral, who was named the program's 12th head coach last December. The Fighting Camels return four starters and seven total letterwinners as it hopes to improve on last year's 10th place finish in the Big South in 2013 led by seniors Lindsey Coats and Heather Wilson and redshirt junior Jessica Groen.
Coats averaged 2.08 kills per set and Groen averaged 2.07 kills per set, good for second and third respectively last season on the team. Coats also averaged 0.79 blocks per set, which ranked second on the team, and hit a team-best .278. Wilson was the team's leader in assists at 8.02 per set and she was tied for second with 18 service aces.
About San Jose State (14-16, 9-9 WAC in 2012): San Jose State begins its first season in the Mountain West Conference in 2013 and will do so following a season in which it finished in a tie for sixth in the WAC. Junior Mary Alice O'Reilly, a 2012 first team All-WAC selection, headlines five returning starters. O'Reilly led the Spartans, in kills (3.20 per set), hitting percentage (.344) and blocks (0.92 per set).
San Jose State also returns second team All-WAC and All-Freshman team selection Michaela Leonard, who averaged 11.11 assists per set last season. The three other returning starters include senior Hanah Blume and juniors Samantha O'Connell and Kiely Pieper. Blume led the team with 31 service aces and Pieper played in every set last year while averaging 3.81 digs per set.
About William & Mary (13-14, 5-7 CAA in 2012): William & Mary hosts the Tribe Invitational with high hopes following an appearance in the Colonial Athletic Association quarterfinals in 2012. The Tribe is led by sophomore Dessi Koleva, who looks to avoid a sophomore slump after an accolade-filled rookie season. Koleva received the CAA's Rookie of the Year award and was named to the All-CAA and All-State second teams following a freshman campaign in which she averaged 2.24 kills, 2.41 digs and 2.61 points per set.
Senior Paulette Grand Pre led the team with 2.40 kills and 2.75 points per set last season. The Tribe also returns its top-four players in digs, a list that includes Koleva and Grand Pre as well as seniors Devin Andrews-Lyssy and Celine Alasomuka. Andrews-Lyssy led the team with 2.75 digs per set.
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