UND volleyball picked to win the Big Sky Conference

GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota volleyball team, the defending Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament champions, are the overwhelming favorite to repeat in the 2017 league coaches poll, which was released Friday.
The Fighting Hawks received 10 of a possible 11 first-place votes.
Northern Colorado was picked second, followed by Sacramento State, Northern Arizona and Portland State.
“These preseason polls are just guessing,” UND coach Mark Pryor said. “There are so many uncontrollable things out there that we simply have no say in, so why even waste a second thinking about that?
“All we are trying to do is just get a little better in the gym today than we were yesterday.”
UND returns three all-Big Sky Conference first team picks. Senior setter Sydney Griffin was the conference player of the year and will distribute to three-time all-league hitter Faith Dooley and 2016 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Tamara Merseli.
Also back are starters sophomore Ashley Brueggeman (209 kills last year) and backrow players Tamika Brekke and sophomore libero Alivia Fraase.
Pryor, entering his fourth year at UND, led the Hawks to a 26-10 record last year, which tied for the most wins in school history. The team also advanced to the program’s first NCAA Division I tournament.
Pryor, the reigning Big Sky Coach of the Year, owns a 73-32 mark at UND, including three-straight 20-win seasons.
The Fighting Hawks open the season in two weeks at the Ole Miss Rebel Invitational. The home slate begins Sept. 6 against rival North Dakota State.