COLUMBIA — An important weekend of volleyball awaits Stephens College and Columbia College, but for different reasons.
The No. 6 Columbia College Cougars will face two Top-10 NAIA-ranked opponents as part of the Lindenwood University Invitational in St. Louis. Play begins against unranked St. Ambrose University (Iowa) on Friday at 3 p.m. and against Robert Morris College (Ill.) at 7 p.m.
The Cougars (23-2, 11-0 American Midwest Conference) will then play two matches on Saturday.
In what the NAIA Web site bills as its "NAIA Game of the Week," Columbia College will go up against No. 7 Madonna University (Mich.) and then play No. 8 Lindenwood University later in the day.
The Cougars have defeated Lindenwood twice this season, sweeping them both times.
Stephens College (9-15, 0-9 in conference) is also looking at this weekend as important, but in a different sense.
"We're looking for a real confidence boost nearing the end of the season and going into conference play," Stars head coach Abby Funderburk said.
The Stars will play in the St. Louis College of Pharmacy Volleyball Tournament, beginning at 5:30 on Friday. In a season without many bright spots, the Stars hope this tournament can provide something positive.
Stephens College won this tournament last season and also won the Baptist Bible College Tournament earlier this year.
"It helps to get away, to play in a different environment in front of a different crowd," Funderburk said.
Stephens College has won only once at home this season.