After months of preparation and countless hours in the gym, first-year head coach Ashleigh Fitzgerald and her McNeese volleyball team will hit the road with sights set on championship gold as the Cowgirls open up the season at the Florida Atlantic Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla.
McNeese will open the season Friday with a 10 a.m. match against Stetson followed by a 7 p.m. match against Florida Atlantic. McNeese concludes tournament play against Bethune Cookman at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Live stats and live streaming links for the tournament can be found at www.mcneesesports.com.
After a three-week preseason, the Cowgirls are ready to go up against outside competition and are eager to play under Fitzgerald who will use the weekend to continue to evaluate her team.
"We are excited to get out of Lake Charles for a few days and play someone else other than ourselves," said Fitzgerald. "We've implemented a fairly unique offensive system, and we are anxious to evaluate it against outside competition."
McNeese, who was selected sixth and eighth respectively in the Southland Conference preseason coaches and sports information director polls, looks to build on a 2013 season that witnessed the Cowgirls reach double-digit wins and clinch their first postseason tournament bid since 2010.
"Looking back at our preseason, I feel like we are so much better on defense than we as a staff had anticipated. Offensively, we have a lot more aggression and are making better decisions, especially when things go wrong. Also, I think we've made strides in becoming a more mentally tough and more resilient team. I have so much confidence in this group and we are all looking forward to measuring ourselves this weekend and then growing from there."
McNeese holds a 1-0 record over Stetson, a member of the Atlantic Sun. The Cowgirls defeated the Hatters 3-1 in 1986 at the Stetson Tournament. McNeese defeated Florida Atlantic, a member of Conference USA, 3-1 in 2009 and picked up a straight-set win over Bethune Cookman in 2012. The Wildcats are members of the MEAC.
The Cowgirls will open up their home schedule with consecutive weekend tournaments that begin with the Big Daddy's Invitational Sept. 5-6 followed by the Cowgirl Classic set for Sept. 12-13.