Aug. 31, 2000

NORMAN, Okla. - The volleyball team will begin the 2000 season with nine-straight road matches beginning with the Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas, this weekend. The tournament field includes host school Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

OU opens tournament play with two matches on Friday, Sept. 1. The Sooners will face the New Mexico State Aggies in the opening match of the tournament at 11:30 a.m. and will follow later in the day with a 4:30 p.m. match-up against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns.

The squad will close out tournament play on Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 11:30 a.m. and Lamar at 7 p.m.

Each of the tournament participants will be opening their seasons this weeked as well. Following is an assessment of each participant:

Lamar: Lamar opens the new millenium hosting the Cardinal Classic. The Lady Cardinals appear in good shape to secure their fifth-straight winning season as the squad returns four starters. The team finished 17-15 overall in 1999 and placed sixth in the Southland Conference with a 11-9 league record. Included among the notable returners is outside hitter Natalie Sarver who led the Lady Cardinals in kills and digs last year as a freshman. Sarver garnered third team All-Southland Conference honors for her efforts.

Louisiana-Lafayette: In 1999, ULL head coach Chris Campbell led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 15-18 overall record and sixth place finish in the Sun Belt Conference during his first season. After beginning the year 6-12, the Cajuns came on strong winning nine of their last 16 matches to close out the season. ULL returns five letterwinners, four of them starters, on which to build this season. The team's top returning starter is junior outside hitter Janaina Gomes who finished her 1999 campaign second on the team in total kills and kills per game.

New Mexico State: The Aggies open the 2000 season, and the tournament, against the Sooners in the first match of the tournament. New Mexico State returns three starters, each of whom averaged over a kill per game last season, from a team that went 15-15 overall and 6-10 in the Big West Conference. Junior outside hitter Angela Lobendahn headlines the trio as she averaged 2.25 kpg and 1.28 dpg in 1999.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: The Islander athletic department opens a new chapter in history as the volleyball program kicks off it's inaugural year at the Cardinal Classic. The squad includes a breakdown of one senior, four juniors, two sophomores, seven freshmen and a combined nine years of collegiate or junior college playing experience.