umhbshieldlogoBELTON – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor volleyball team opens the 2014 season with a trip to the U.T.-Dallas Labor Day Tournament this weekend in Richardson. The Cru will play a total of three matches over two days in the event to kick off the year.

The Cru was picked to win the ASC in the league’s Preseason Poll and also received votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Coaches Preseason Top 25 Poll for the first time in program history.

“We have been through a tough preseason training schedule and faced some adversity,” Head Coach Rob Frost said. “Coming out of that, the team is in great shape mentally and physically. We are ready to compete.”

Frost returns seven letterwinners from a team that earned a school-record 29 wins a year ago and made the program’s first trip to the NCAA Division III Championships. Bianca Patterson, a Harker Heights, Texas, native, (Harker Heights H.S.), returns for her senior season with the Cru. Patterson transferred in last season and played a vital role as a middle hitter for the Cru. She ended her junior campaign leading the Cru in attack percentage (.272), totaling 293 kills and ranking second in the team in blocks with 112.

Cheyenne Dowdey, Kendra Feldmann, Lauren Powell, Shelby Prather and Kendall Pye all return for their junior seasons. Dowdey, a Hallettsville, Texas, native, (Hallettsville H.S.) ended her sophomore season ranked second in Division III in blocks per set (1.42), setting a new ASC record in block assists (140) and a new UMHB record in blocks in a season (194). Feldmann, a native of Arvada, Colo. (Ralston Valley H.S.), led the ASC in digs per set last season with 5.23, setting a new school record for digs in a season with 711. Powell, a native of The Woodlands, Texas, (The Woodlands H.S.) was a key offensive threat last season, leading the UMHB with 369 kills on 1218 attacks while Prather, a Leander, Texas, native, (Leander H.S.) led the team with 837 assists and 43 aces. Pye, a native of College Station, Texas, (A&M Consolidated H.S.), was a versatile player, totaling 237 kills and 550 assists while adding 73 blocks.

Georgetown, Texas, native Abby Voskuil (Georgetown H.S.), is the lone sophomore on the roster for UMHB. Voskuil ended her freshman season with 127 kills in 489 attacks, adding 28 aces and 314 digs. Frost also added a strong core of freshman to the 2014 roster. Jordan Yates (Forney, Forney H.S.), Loren Poss (San Angelo, Central H.S.), Maci Nelson (Austin, Round Rock H.S.), Kelsey Nothnagel (Austin, Vista Ridge H.S.) and Natasha Evans (Edna, Edna H.S.) all begin their collegiate careers with the Cru.

In Richardson, UMHB will open the tournament with a 1 p.m. match against Southwestern University on Friday, August 29th. The Cru will also face the University of Dallas on Friday at 5 p.m. before facing off against No. 13 Trinity on Saturday, August 30th at 10 a.m. UMHB will open the 2014 home slate on Tuesday, September 16th in a 6 p.m. match against Hardin-Simmons University at the Mayborn Campus Center.