ORU Opens 2014 Season at Pepperdine
TOURNAMENT: Pepperdine Asics Classic (hosted by Pepperdine)
WHEN: Aug. 29-30, 2014
WHERE: Firestone Fieldhouse – Malibu, Calif.
OPPONENTS: Nevada (Friday, 6:30 p.m. CT), South Alabama (Saturday, noon CT), Pepperdine (Saturday, 9 p.m. CT)
LIVE VIDEO: PepperdineSports.com
ORU has never before faced Nevada, South Alabama or Pepperdine. This is ORU’s 14th trip to the state of California, however, where they are 23-18-1 all-time. The Golden Eagles last visited the Golden State in 2007, when they went 2-1 at the Powerade/Asics Classic in San Francisco. ORU fell to host San Francisco in the first match of the tournament before rallying to topple Eastern Washington and Colgate.
HEAD COACH SHEERA SIROLA
Sheera Sirola enters her 12th season in charge of the Golden Eagles. The 2006 Mid-Con Coach of the Year is ORU’s career wins leader, with a record of 209-133. She is also the Summit’s career leader in overall wins (170 from 2003-11) and conference victories (99).
#11 Sara Pope (Sr., 5-11, OH) – The 2013 Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year averaged 3.65 kills per set and hit .294 last season.
#7 Kylie Johnson (Jr., 5-10, S) – After spending her first two seasons in a defensive role, Johnson is expected to assume setter duties as a junior.
#13 Sadie Schaffner (Jr., 6-3, RS) – Missed 11 matches last season with a sprained ankle but has averaged 2.02 kills per set when healthy over her first two seasons.
BACK TO THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
After spending two seasons in the Southland Conference, ORU returns to the Summit League for the 2014 season. The Golden Eagles won won seven tournament championships during their previous run in the Summit, from 1997-2011.
GOLDEN EAGLES PICKED 5th IN THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
ORU was picked 5th out of nine teams in the 2014 Summit League Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released last week. The Golden Eagles return four starts from last season’s 22-7 club, and their final RPI of 96 was 13 spots higher than the top-ranked Summit League team.
Denver, who finished 2nd in the 2013 Summit League standings, earned six 1st place votes and 60 total points to earn the title of league favorite. IPFW was picked 2nd, followed by defending champion IUPUI 3rd and South Dakota 4th.
Nevada struggled to a 4-28 record last season and finished 11th in the Mountain West Conference with two wins and 18 losses in league play. The Wolfpack return five starters and 12 lettermen from last season’s team, led by Kara Kasser. The junior libero tallied 2.80 digs per set last season.
SCOUTING SOUTH ALABAMA
South Alabama posted a 14-15 season in 2013 and returns all seven starters from a team that finished tied for 5th in the Sun Belt Conference with a 9-9 mark. Sophomore Mechell Daniel averaged 3.81 kills per set last season, while fellow second-year player Jessica Lewis racked up 3.42 kills per set in her rookie campaign.
Pepperdine went 15-11 last year and posted an even 9-9 record in West Coast Conference action, which was good for a 4th place tie. Five starters return for the Waves, led by junior setter Becca Strehlow, who averaged 10.25 assists per set last season. Strehlow was an honorable mention AVCA All-American last season and an AVCA All-Pacific South Region selection.
UP NEXT FOR ORU
The Golden Eagles take part in the Dr. Mary Jo Winn Invitational next week, hosted by Missouri State. ORU opens the tournament against the host Bears on Sept. 4, faces Milwaukee on Sept. 5 and ends the event by playing Western Kentucky and Incarnate Word on Sept. 6.