20130824purple and white (Tyler Brown)-2
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Sophomore Samantha Staker spikes the ball in the Purple and Black Game. The Weber State University volleyball team will host a tournament this Friday and Saturday.

The Weber State University volleyball team will kick off its season Friday with the Wildcat Weekend. The team will play four games in the span of two days. Teams from Grand Canyon University, Texas Tech University, Seattle University and the University of California, Riverside will all test each other and the Wildcats.

WSU will open the season with nine new members on a team that will return eight players who contributed to a team that went 11-21, an eight-game improvement from the year before. Even though the team is young, head coach Tom Peterson said he feels the tough road schedule it will face early on will help it as the season goes along. After a fall camp filled with two-a-days and countless workouts, Peterson said he feels the team is coming together nicely.

“Because we have more talent in the gym and because we have been working hard, I expect better results than last year in terms of winning or losing,” Peterson said. “We are not where we want to be yet, but it is easy to see, even now, that we are better. We will have to mature quickly because we are again young and because we will play so many matches on the road early on in our schedule.”

Even though the team will rely on its youth, it will return players who made valuable contributions to the team. One of those key returners for the Wildcats, leading the way statistically, is sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Fuchs. Fuchs led WSU with 323 kills and scored 384 total points last season. Fuchs was also second in digs and in service aces with 26.

Another key contributor from the team last year, Audrey Hunter, who led the team in blocks with 133, said she can already feel a different vibe around the team and that the incoming players have a strong desire to work hard and be successful.

“As a team, it’s been a long time since we have had a winning season,” Hunter said. “We have a great group of freshmen that are coming in. We worked really hard all the way throughout two-a-days, and we are just hoping to have a winning season.”

After this weekend, the team will hit the road, where it will play eight of its next nine games out of the state in tournaments in Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Assistant coach Joy Nakaishi said she has come to realize through the time she has spent with the team that consistency will play a huge role in how the season turns out.

“We have been talking a lot in practice about momentum shifts,” she said. “You can get four straight points, then bomb one in the net. The team needs to be in a constant flow, avoiding those ups and downs. It’s hard to go through peaks and valleys; it takes a true team to play this game. It’s all about consistency, because one player can’t win the whole match. We need players to perform at their roles.”

After this weekend, the Wildcats will head to the Wolfpack Invitational in Reno, Nev., where they will compete against GCU, Illinois State University, the University of Nevada and the University of California, Davis.

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