Coming off their best season (28-2, 16-0 Sun Belt) in decades, David Rehr’s Arkansas State Red Wolves open a season of high expectations this weekend in Fort Worth at TCU.
A-State faces Northwestern (La.) State on Friday and North Carolina State and TCU on Saturday.
A-State returns a strong core -- five starters -- off last year’s team: SBC offensive player of the year Carlisa May; senior libero Markie Schaedig SBC Defensive Player of the Year, All-SBC First Team; senior Mallory Warrington SBC Setter of the Year; senior Kelsey Reis, First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference. Multi-talented Drew Jones, the team’s do-everything standout, is also back.
A-State had an RPI of 20 last year and Rehr has toughened the schedule this season. The Red Wolves have increased the strength of schedule with games against NC State, TCU, Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, Missouri State, Indiana and Cal Poly. TCU is the fourth pick in the Big 12; St. Louis and Western Kentucky are league favorites; Ole Miss is among the top 4 in the SEC. A-State Invitation (UCA, Tulsa, UT-Martin) opens the home season on Sept. 8. The Red Wolves received 23 votes in the preseason poll (actually ranked 34th) and was a unanimous preseason pick in the Sun Belt Western Division.
“You feel confident but everyone feels that way right now. There are a lot of people who feel that way right now. There are a lot of what-ifs and everyone has to play right and deal with the first-game jitters. There are a lot of expectations on us and I dont know how the kids will come out.”