|Volleyball Opens In Florida|
MOSCWO, Idaho—The University of Idaho opens the 2014 volleyball season on Friday when they faceoff against Oklahoma in the first match of the Active Ankle Challenge. The Vandals will also match up with the tournament host, Florida, and Georgia Southern.
The Vandals enter the new campaign with an experienced squad, only losing two seniors from the 2013 season. The Silver and Gold return four seniors, including middle blocker Alyssa Schultz and outside hitter Jessica Hastriter. Schultz, a First Team All-Western Athletic Conference selection in 2013, finished last season ranked second in school history with a .376 hitting percentage. The Issaquah, Wash., native, raised her career hitting percentage to .346, a program record. Hastriter, earned All-Tournament honors at the NAU Fiesta Bowl tournament in 2013. She finished the tournament hitting .329 with 3.63 kills per set.
“We have some key players coming back,” head coach Debbie Buchanan commented. “I think we have a great group of girls who have stepped up as leaders. We have a handful of those kids and now we just have to go and put it together. You do not get tested and measured until you go play somebody else. We know what we do. Now we need to go play somebody else who does not know what we are going to do.”
Idaho finished last season 19-11, advancing to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. The Vandals return four starters and a libero from 2013 as they enter the Big Sky Conference. Overall, Idaho has 10 letterwinners from last season back for 2014 and welcomed in five freshman this fall.
The Sooners are coming off their program-record fifth straight NCAA appearance. They finished 24-8 and 11-5 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma returns five starters from 2013, including juniors Julia Doyle and Taylor Migliazzo. Doyle led the team with 9.49 assists per game, while Migliazzo recorded 3.94 digs per game.
“They [Oklahoma] are a bigger team,” Buchanan noted. “They are going to run a six-two it sounds like. We think they are going to be more pin dominate and not run middle as much, but we will not know until we get there.
“This tournament we are playing three very good teams, three very big teams. We are going to have to rely on our quickness and ball control so we can run our offense and hopefully get the balls to our middles to really open everything up.”
The first match is set for a 7 a.m. PT start on Friday. The Vandals will take on No. 10 Florida later that afternoon at 4:30 p.m. The match against the Gators will be nationally televised on the SEC Network. Idaho wraps up its stay in Gainesville on Saturday with a 9 a.m. match against Georgia Southern.