Like Lee University's other sports, the Cleveland school's long-dominant NAIA volleyball program begins a new phase today. Coach Andrea Hudson and the Lady Flames host their season-opening tournament with NAIA membership behind them. Going into NCAA Division II play and returning to National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association postseason aspirations while serving out a Division II provisional period, the Lady Flames host Bethel College from Indiana, Indiana Tech, Coastal Georgia and nearby Bryan in the Lee Invitational today and Saturday. "We don't start [Gulf South] conference play for a couple of weeks, so we're hoping this tournament will help us get our new players warmed up a little bit and ready to go for the season," Hudson said in a school release. "Of course playing at home helps to settle some of the nervous jitters early on." Lee plays Bethel at noon today and Indiana Tech tonight at 7 and closes out with Coastal Georgia at 2:30 and Bryan at 4:45 on Saturday. GSC competition begins on Sept. 20 with Christian Brothers from Memphis and West Florida coming in. West Florida was picked to win the league with CBU a close second. "One of the challenges we'll face this year [after this weekend] is playing all brand-new opponents and not knowing much about their style of play or history," Hudson said.
• The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hosts its annual PowerAde Invitational cross country meet this evening on Moccasin Bend with Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, Auburn-Montgomery, Bryan College, Dalton State, Lee and Shorter helping the Mocs and Lady Mocs start their seasons. The women will run a two-mile race beginning at 5 p.m., followed by a men's 5k, and the public is welcome to watch at no charge. "We'll have Lucas Cotter back at full steam this year," UTC coach Bill Gautier said in a school release. "John Gilpin will also making his return. [Former Baylor School runner] Rebecca Greenwall will be making her debut with the Running Mocs this year, and Teghan Henderson, who had an outstanding freshman season, returns to the lineup." Amanda Sumner Cotter also returns to lead the Lady Mocs after an All-Southern Conference season in 2012, and junior Paul Stuart and 2012 SoCon freshman of the year Trevor Janssen are other returners for the UTC men's team.
• The UTC men's tennnis team opens the fall-semester part of its 2013-14 schedule this weekend at the UNC-Wilmington Invitational. There are six teams taking part. Making the trip for coach Carlos Garcia's Mocs are returning players Pavels Grigorjevs, a junior, and John Peacey and Luke Saunders, both sophomores, along with freshman Marcos Morelli from Argentina, Derrick Brown from Marietta, Ga., and East Tennessee State transfer Jorge Varon from Venezuela. He's a senior in eligibility who played in the middle of the lineup for the Buccaneers for three years. He and Morelli will be a doubles team, joining Saunders/Peacey and Grigorjevs/Brown. Other teams at the tournament are Virginia Commonwealth, Liberty, East Carolina and New Mexico.
• The Lee University women's soccer team fell 2-1 in its season opener Thursday night at Azusa Pacific in California. Lee's Chloe Rader scored first on a penalty kick, 14:22 in, but Mayra Almazan scored unassisted for the Cougars at 27:59 and assisted Katelyn Rogers for a go-ahead header at 28:50. Lee led in shots at 16-12 and in corner kicks at 6-3.
• Carson-Newman University opened its football season with a 55-28 home win over Wayne State on Thursday night in Jefferson City, Tenn. The Eagles, ranked 17th in NCAA Division II, scored touchdowns on their first six possessions for a 42-14 halftime lead and made its 48-14 early in the third quarter on De'Andre Thomas' third TD pass to go with three Tyron Douglas scoring runs. Two of the TD passes covered 34 and 63 yards to Anthony Eubanks; the last one was a 40-yarder to Steven Isom. Thomas was 8-of-10 for 213 yards; Douglas gained 82 yards on 14 carries.