BELTON, TX — The 2019 season may bring higher expectations for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor volleyball program than any previous season in team history. After all, the Cru is coming off the best season of the volleyball program’s NCAA Division III history and UMHB is ranked 15th in the country in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll.
The Cru is also coming off the third American Southwest Conference Championship in program history and the team returns all six starters and 11 total letter winners from a team that finished 28-5 and advanced to the Regional Finals of the NCAA Division III National Championships last season. Those returners include a pair of AVCA All-Americans in Jenna Gillean and Miranda Klein. Gillean was also voted ASC West Division Most Valuable Player in 2018. Haleigh Evans, Cory Jo Martin, Corinne Novak and Sarah Paolini are also back after earning spots on the ASC All-Conference or All-West Division Teams last season and the Cru will have its largest roster in some time with 17 players on the squad. The most important newcomer may be first-year Head Coach Mark Pryor. Pryor takes over UMHB’s volleyball program after a successful stint at Division I North Dakota and brings a career record of 182-152 into the season.
The Cru will open the new year this weekend with four matches at the Trinity University Tournament in San Antonio. UMHB will take on Minnesota-Morris at 1 pm Friday in the season opener before taking on tournament host and nationally-ranked Trinity University at 7 pm to close out the opening day. The Cru will then face Neumann (PA) and Saint Benedict on Saturday to close out the tournament.
UMHB opens ASC play with a road match at Howard Payne University on September 11th. The Cru’s only home match of the opening month of the season will come against Sul Ross State on Saturday, September 14th. UMHB was an overwhelming favorite to win the ASC West Division in the conference’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll.