Northern Kentucky kicks off the 2017 campaign this weekend in Houston at the Barcelona HBU Classic, hosted by Houston Baptist on Aug. 25-26. The Norse will lift the lid on the season against Texas Tech on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET before taking on Texas Southern and host HBU on Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. Live stats will be available for all three matches, while there will also be a video feed available during Saturday’s match against Houston Baptist.
Northern Kentucky (0-0) vs. Texas Tech (0-0), Texas Southern (0-0) and Houston Baptist (0-0)
Friday, Aug. 25 – 2:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, Aug. 26 – 3 p.m. ET | Saturday, Aug. 26 – 8 p.m. ET
Houston – Sharp Gym
Live Stats (All Matches)
Live Video (HBU Match Only)
LAST TIME OUT: NKU took advantage of one of the NCAA’s newest additions to the rulebook during the preseason camp, hosting the defending Mid-American Conference Co-Champion and NCAA Tournament qualifier Miami (Ohio) in an intercollegiate scrimmage on Aug. 19. Every member of the Norse squad got playing time over the course of five 25-point sets, which saw Miami take three of the five games. However, NKU’s starting lineup proved to be strong as the Norse claimed the first and fifth sets, which featured the rotation of Shelby Olsen at setter, Kelly Turner at right side, Georgia Childers and Bailey Western at middle blocker, Laura Crawford and Haley Libs at outside, and Ashton Terrill as the libero.
Libs and Crawford paced the team in kills, with Libs posting a double-double of 14 kills and a team-best 17 digs while Crawford had 12 kills over four sets. Olsen also registered a double-double, dishing out 36 assists to go with 15 digs. Childers led the squad in blocks, with five of NKU’s eight stops at the net, while Terrill added 14 digs and four aces to her stat line.
PRESEASON PROJECTIONS: NKU was tabbed to finish fifth in the Horizon League, according to a preseason poll of the League’s coaches. However, PrepVolleyball.com gave the Norse a ranking closer to the team’s third-place finish last season, pegging NKU to finish second in the League behind reigning champion Cleveland State.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH: The Red Raiders finished at the bottom of the Big 12 standings last season, unable to secure a win in 16 outings against conference opponents. Overall, Texas Tech went 10-21, with all 10 wins coming in consecutive victories between Aug. 27 and Sept. 14. This year’s Red Raider roster features a deep bench with 20 players, 12 of which are underclassmen. The squad lost its top two terminators from last season as well as its starting setter, but returns junior middle blocker Katy Keenan, who posted 176 kills at a .239 clip in 2016, as well as sophomore wing hitter Chandler Atwood, who had 168 kills a season ago. Texas Tech also returns its top defender, junior libero Reyn Akiu. In her sophomore campaign, Akiu was ranked second in the Big 12 and 39th in the nation in digs per set, sitting just outside 5.00 scoops a game at 4.97. After collecting Second Team All-Big 12 honors in 2016, Akiu was selected to the U.S. Collegiate National Team over the summer.
SCOUTING TEXAS SOUTHERN: The Lady Tigers enjoyed a successful season last year, going 22-11 and finishing second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference with a 16-2 mark. The only losses that Texas Southern suffered outside of nonconference action were all to eventual SWAC champion and NCAA qualifier Alabama State, which swept through the conference with only four set losses over the course of 18 matches. While the team lost its All-SWAC First Team middle blocker, second teamer Asia Howard returns to run the offense for her junior campaign. The Lady Tigers also have a roster 20 deep, eight of which are newcomers in 2017. Though the team sports a high number of players, a majority of the roster sees time on the court as 18 of last year’s 24 players appeared in at least 10 matches.
SCOUTING HOUSTON BAPTIST: The host Huskies went 18-15 last season, including 9-7 in the Southland Conference, but were tabbed to finish fourth in this year’s preseason poll. Three HBU seniors received Preseason All-SLC nods, led by Bailey Banks and Blair Gillard on the first team while Jessica Wooten garnered second-team honors. Banks was second in the Southland with 3.68 kills per set last season and was the Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore. Gillard was a second-team honoree in 2016, but made an impact at the net after breaking the SLC record with 168 total blocks (1.31 per set). Rounding out the trio of projected top contributors is Wooten, who missed last season due to injury and returns for a redshirt-senior year after becoming HBU’s all-time kills leader in the Division I era, with 1,126.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: All three opponents at the Barcelona HBU Classic are programs that NKU has never faced in its 41 years of volleyball.
Join the Uprising!
Chloe Smith
Assistant Athletic Communications Director
Northern Kentucky University

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