Manchester University steps on the court for the first time in 2016 this weekend.
Match details: Third-year head coach Bryndon Paulsen's squad takes on Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association members Olivet and Albion at 2 and 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, and fellow MIAA institution Kalamazoo Saturday, Sept. 3, at 2 p.m. followed by a clash against Waynesburg College of the President's Athletic Conference at 4 p.m. as part of the Anderson University Invitational. … All contests are set for O.C. Lewis Gymnasium on AU's campus.
Spartan Shorts: MU, picked eighth on the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's preseason coaches' poll, enters the competition season with plenty of excitement and anticipation. Who could blame them? The Spartans made a big climb from year one to year two under head coach Bryndon Paulsen, going from a five-win team in 2014 to 10 victories in 2015 which included victories over league powers Rose-Hulman and Mt. St. Joseph University as part of a berth in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's postseason tournament. The next step might not be far away, either. "A good nucleus is back with some potential in the first-year student-athletes to go along (with it)," Paulsen said. "We feel good and are ready to go. There's work to be done as in any season preparation. As an example, while serving was good a year ago … proving very aggressive which is what we want to keep going … our serve receiving was an area we want to improve, as it's important for us in setting up our offense. The biggest thing we need to address is consistency. There were too many times last season where we played well on certain points and not so good on others." … Helping lead the way will be a trio of Black and Gold players who earned mention on the conference's Players to Watch list. Senior outside hitter Courtney Chowning (Yorktown, Ind.) returns with first team all-loop honors in tow, two successive 250-or-more kill campaigns and needing less than 200 more to reach 1,000 for her career; sophomore setter Dakota Stanichuk (Athens, Mich.) was among the HCAC's best setters after putting up 804 assists and digging up 175 opponent attack attempts last fall; and sophomore middle hitter Hannah Tevis (Royal Center, Ind.) was named to the conference's all-freshman squad in 2015 after finishing with 211 kills and 60 blocks … MU's schedule brings it to the Stan Weller Court in honor of Coaches Stauffer and Wolfe inside Stauffer-Wolfe Arena Wednesday, Sept. 7, for another non-conference match-up with the MIAA. St. Mary's College visits North Manchester for a 7 p.m. first serve.