Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) volleyball team lost three senior starters from last season, so fresh faces will be a common theme as the team starts its 2012 campaign.
"I think this preseason is going to be the most fun I've been in," Bulldogs sophomore defensive specialist Julie Rainey said," just because of all the new people and new freshmen players."
UMD finished in a tie for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) regular season title in 2011 and qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament.
Returning players said a return to that level is certainly a goal of this year's squad, but also that the team did not want to look too far ahead in the season.
"It's always exciting, and you're always nervous," UMD senior middle blocker Kalli Lochner said. "You always get the butterflies on the first day, but our program has a tradition. I just want to help the other girls learn that and keep it going."
The Bulldogs will open the 2012 season August 31-September 1 with a tournament in Kirksville, Mo., with the team's first home game set for September 4 against Northern Michigan.