Ladies kick off season at UT Dallas Tournament
Thursday, August 30, 2012

RICHARDSON, Texas – The youthful Centenary volleyball squad will make its 2012 debut at the UT Dallas tournament this weekend with two games on Friday and two more Saturday, part of an eight-team field.

The Ladies are off a 14-14 season in 2011, the most wins for the Ladies in 13 years. The road to a better mark starts Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Mary Hardin-Baylor, followed by a 5 p.m. contest against LeTourneau. Centenary finishes play Sept. 1 against host UT Dallas at 12:30 p.m. and Hardin-Simmons at 3. Hendrix College, Texas Wesleyan, Texas Lutheran are the other participating teams.

 “We’ve been preparing pretty hard and our girls are in good shape, so we were able to push them harder than any other team in my time here,” said head coach Jon Stenman, who’s entering his third year as head coach. “What I’m looking for this weekend is for them to come out and not be scared… We have three freshmen in the starting lineup and you really want them to come out and just play the game they’ve always played and not be intimidated.”

Stenman said this year’s team has enough talent to win as many games as last year, but the Ladies youth and daunting schedule are two significant obstacles.

“Since we have three freshmen in the starting lineups and I’m really hoping the bright lights of their first tournament don’t overwhelm them,” he said.

The Ladies squad boasts just one senior, Jesi Wilcox, and one junior, Beth Nuttall, while 14 of the 16 are sophomores and freshmen.

This year’s slate marks the first season in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference for Centenary, which is one of the toughest volleyball conferences in the nation with three teams ranked inside the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll -- Colorado College (14), Southwestern (T 19) and Trinity (23). Austin College is just outside the top 25 at No. 34.

“It seems like every game we’re going to play is going to be a tough test,” Stenman said. “What (assistant) Coach (Jon) Valiao and I did was schedule tough non-conference games to prepare ourselves. We play strong American Southwest Conference games. We play tough NAIA teams. We play some Division II teams. We have to be sure that when we play conference games that we aren’t going to be intimidated by the rankings in front of the schools' names.”

Centenary plays at the UT Tyler Tournament next weekend before making its home debut at the Gold Dome Sept. 11 in the first of its four tri-matches.