The subtle changing of leaves means it’s time for UTD fall sports to start up again. Volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s soccer all have high hopes this season, but whether those hopes will yield results requires a complete breakdown of each sport.
The volleyball team, like last year, again lacks height, with zero players over six feet and five players measuring 5 feet 6 inches or below. The team’s core players, Abbie Barth, Michelle Toro and Holyn Handley return as seniors for one last title run. Fayna Zeng, who was initially recruited as a setter but filled in as the team’s libero last year, will return to her normal position to fill the void the program’s all-time assist leader, Kayla Jordan, left behind.
The women’s soccer team consistently started multiple freshmen last season. At one point in the year, all 11 starters were freshmen. A good portion of those players will be returning, giving the team some continuity moving forward. A nagging injury plagued senior forward Megan Mugavero last season. Now healthy, Mugavero and first team All-ASC selectee, sophomore forward Jacquie Kaufman will lead the Comet’s dynamic attack.
Men’s soccer ended an eight-year ASC title drought in 2015. They’ll come into their 2016 campaign as a veteran team once again, losing only one starter from their championship winning team. The team is well balanced offensively and defensively, featuring the reigning ASC Offensive Player of the Year Danny Meyer and ASC Defensive Player of the Year Sam Konstanty.
Volleyball entered the season as the 13th ranked team in the country. They won their home opener against Wiley College on Sept. 2 in straight sets. The team will have three major tournaments this season: the Colorado College Invitational Tournament held in Colorado Springs from Sept. 9 to 10, the ASC Crossover Tournament held in Austin from Sept. 23 to 24 and the Washington University Volleyball Tournament held in St. Louis from Oct. 21 to 22. The team will begin ASC play on Sept. 16 against LeTourneau University.
Women’s soccer will begin the season with an eight-game home stand, three of those home games against ASC opponents, the first on Sept. 17 against Howard Payne. Those eight games will set the tone for the team’s season. Games to watch for include a road game against ASC powerhouse Hardin-Simmons on Sept. 30 and a rematch from last season’s ASC semifinal against Tyler on Oct. 20.
Men’s soccer faces a difficult road schedule to start the year, including a match-up with the 23rd ranked team in the country. A key game to watch for is a road game against Trinity University on Sept. 10, the same team that has ended all of the Comets’ past NCAA tournaments runs. The team will begin ASC play on Sept. 22 against Concordia.
Women’s soccer is poised to break their 11-year ASC title drought. Volleyball and men’s soccer have proven themselves as ASC powerhouse programs, but have fallen short on the national stage, with neither advancing to a “Sweet 16.” Their ultimate goal is to make a serious run in the NCAA tournament and bring home UTD’s first ever National Championship.