LITTLE ROCK -
The UALR volleyball team will play in four non-conference tournaments prior to the start of Sun Belt Conference play on Sept. 21, as announced Wednesday with the release of the team's 2012 schedule. Van Compton
returns nine lettermen off last year's squad for her 25th season as head coach of the Trojans, led by 2011 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Edina Begic
UALR opens the 2012 season Aug. 24-25 at the Memphis Invitational with matches against Eastern Michigan, Austin Peay and Memphis. The Trojans will then compete in the Missouri State Adidas Invitational (Aug. 31-Sept. 1), the Saluki Invitational (Sept. 7-8) and the Oklahoma NIKE Invitational (Sept. 14-15), before opening league play at Florida International on Sept. 21.
The Trojans will play six matches at the Jack Stephens Center this season, with a bout against ULM on Sept. 28 opening a four-game home stand. After facing the Warhawks on Sept. 28, the Trojans will round out the home stand with matches against North Texas (Sept. 29), South Alabama (Oct. 5) and Troy (Oct. 6).
UALR will host Arkansas State at the Jack Stephens Center on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., and close out the home portion of its schedule against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday, Nov. 4. The Trojans will end the 2012 season on the road, with matches at ULM (Nov. 9) and North Texas (Nov. 11). The 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament will be hosted by Western Kentucky at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. (Nov. 15-17).
UALR welcomes back nine of its 11 letterwinners off last year's team, but will have to replace departed starters Kristi Block and Paige Gantar. A sophomore from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Begic earned Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Conference honors in 2011 after ranking second in the Sun Belt with a 3.93 kills per set average. She is one of seven returning players that appeared in over 85 sets last season, along with sophomore Marleen de Zoete, and seniors Eva Xie and Emily Pepperman. Xie ranked third on the team in points per set last season (2.23), while de Zoete averaged a team-high 9.02 assists and Pepperman paced the team with 377 digs (3.43 per set).