VB: HBU opens season with Sam Houston

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas – HBU kicks off the 2021 season against Sam Houston and San Diego State at the SHSU Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Johnson Coliseum.

The Huskies will open on Friday at 11 a.m. with the former Southland Conference competitor Bearkats and will be played again on Saturday at 4 p.m. HBU will face San Diego State on Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. All games will be broadcast live on the WAC Digital Network.

HBU finished second in Southland after going 8: 4 in the spring season and reached the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament before falling against eventual champion Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Huskies return five starters and their sweeper and have collected five preseason all-conference selections. Senior outside hitter and three-time all-conference selection Mikayla Vivens is entering her fifth year with 1,079 career kills and 1,082 career excavations and has led the league in double-doubles for the last three seasons. Senior middle blocker Ebonie Ballesteros led the conference with 1.27 blocks per set in the spring and senior middle blocker Jada Allen hit 0.300 with 2.24 kills per set, adding a total of 61 blocks. Junior setter Ellie Wipf led the SLC with 10.60 assists per set in conference play and the second libero Kaley Feris finished seventh in the league with 4.42 digs per set.

HBU also returns from right-wing Anna Gadway, who averaged 1.82 kills, 2.39 digs, and 0.74 blocks per set, and second underdog Sara Arroyo, who saw action in four games as a true freshman. The Huskies have also added eight new signings in junior transfer defensive specialist Marlayna Stapleton and seven newcomers: setters Mollee Henicke and Grace McLaughlin, middle blockers Audrey Pearce and Megan Vorhis, underdogs Alexia Jones and Alyssa May, and defensive specialist Tatiana Evans.

Originally, Central Arkansas was supposed to take part in the tournament, but withdrew due to the health and safety standards of the NCAA.

HBU will be home next weekend to host the Marriott Houston Westchase Invitational with Prairie View A&M, Louisiana Tech and Lamar.

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