UNO’s first road weekend of Summit League volleyball play was already going to be tough enough, with matches Friday at Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne and Saturday at IUPUI.
After all, the Mastodons won the Summit League postseason tournament last year to reach the NCAA tournament. IUPUI was last year’s regular-season champion. And, in the preseason poll, IPFW and IUPUI tied for first.
But now both are off to 0-2 league starts, having both lost on the road last weekend to Denver and South Dakota — the teams picked to finish third and fourth, respectively, in the Summit.
UNO (5-11 overall, 0-1 Summit) faces IPFW at 6 p.m. CDT Friday at Gates Sports Center before Saturday’s 4 p.m. CDT match at the IUPUI Gymnasium (referred to as The Jungle).
IPFW (7-10 overall) has lost 8 of 9 matches after a 6-2 start. Summit 2012 player of the year Emily Spencer is averaging a league-best 4.4 kills per set, while Sarah Heckman is fourth in the Summit with 1.1 blocks per set.
IUPUI (6-11) boasts a pair of returning first-team all-league selections in Moriah Fair and 2012 freshman of the year Kaitlyn Hickey. Fair is fourth in the Summit with 3.6 kills per set, while Hickey is sixth at 3.3. Also for the Jaguars, Beth Howard leads the league with 5.0 digs per set — leading the way for a team that averages a league-best 16.8 digs per set.
IPFW didn’t win a set during its difficult trip to Denver and South Dakota, while IUPUI lost in four to Denver and in five to South Dakota.
UNO, second in the Summit with 2.5 blocks per set, is led by sophomore Megan Schmale, who continues to rank first in the league with 1.4 blocks per set and is fifth with a .279 hitting percentage.
The Mavericks were swept at home last weekend by Western Illinois.