New coach, new season for Mavericks

Courtney Morehead, left, is the only senior on the Mavs' roster for new coach Matt Buttermore's first season.

This is usually the time of year when Matt Buttermore’s teams start accumulating wins.

During his seven seasons at Hastings College, the Broncos won 77% of their matches and the NAIA national title in 2016.

Now it’s time for the start of another season, but this one has a different feel.

“I’ve thought about it a little bit,” said Buttermore, who makes his coaching debut for UNO on Friday. “It’s a new place, a new team. All that will be interesting.”

UNO opens the season with its home tournament for the first time since 2010. The Mavs face Abilene Christian and Idaho State on Friday and Albany on Saturday at Baxter Arena.

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UNO went 17-12 last year for Rose Shires, who retired after 29 years as coach. The Mavs return six players who played in every match, including their top four hitters — Sadie Limback had a team-best 2.89 kills per set, followed by Isabella Sade (2.80), Anna Blaschko (2.43) and Claire Leonard (2.38).

“We can be pretty terminal when we’re in system,” Buttermore said. “We’ve got decent size, we have some good arms.”

And there’s one senior on the roster: defensive specialist Courtney Morehead.

“We had a lot of sophomores (last year) and they have another year under their belt,” said Sade, who hit a team-best .343. “We can do some really big things.”

The Mavs, though, will be working with a new setter. Sydney Case, who averaged 11.1 assists per set, is playing at Division II Eckerd this season.

Buttermore said the top two replacements in camp have been junior Jaclyn Taylor and freshman Sami Clarkson. In last week’s scrimmage, both had more than 30 assists.

“Both are learning, playing hard,” said Buttermore, who expects to run a 5-1 offense. “They’re two really good kids. They both do good things.”

Buttermore said the team had some good and bad moments during the scrimmage. But even when the Mavs get out of system, he wants them to play fast.

“It’s been exciting. ... They bring so much knowledge to the team,” Sade said of the new staff. “Our goal is to win the conference. We’re not there yet, but that’s a good thing. We don’t want to peak yet. We’re excited to get after it against another team.”

Gene covers a variety of sports beats for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @geneOWH. Phone: 402-444-1038.

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