The Pima College volleyball team is gearing up for the start of its season with a scrimmage against Central Arizona College on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Aztecs, who went 15-12 last year, competed in a preseason scrimmage tournament in Scottsdale last week as they prepare for their season-opening New Mexico Military Institute Tournament on Aug. 23-24 in Roswell, N.M.
"Last year was a terrific season," said head coach Dan Bithell, "but any time you don't make it all the way, it's disappointing, because I do feel we could've played better when we needed to. But hopefully it's a process that will lend confidence to the returning players this year."
Bithell cited two players in particular, one returning and one newcomer, that he expects to play key roles on this year's squad.
Courtney Pitts, a sophomore libero from Catalina High School, is expected to shoulder a big load for the Aztecs.
"If she can contact the first ball as many times as possible, that'd be a good thing for us," Bithell said of Pitts, the Star's 2011 All-Southern Arizona Player of the Year. "She's such a skilled player and has such great ball control that any time she's taking the first ball something good happens."
Alexis Ammerman, a Tucson High product, transferred to Pima from Division I Jackson State in the offseason. Ammerman is an opposite hitter.
"Physically, she'll be one of our more athletic and physical players that we'll look for to contribute," Bithell said.
Pima's first regular-season home match is Aug. 28 against Eastern Arizona.
• The football team will face Eastern Arizona in a preseason scrimmage on Friday at 6 p.m.
It was originally set for a Pima intrasquad scrimmage, but Eastern Arizona was looking for a scrimmage, so head coach Pat Nugent obliged.
"They have tons of talent," he said. "It'll be nice to go against somebody."
The season starts a week later against Arizona Western College in Yuma.
• Nugent is still deciding between Jack Nykaza and Tyler D'Amore, ex-UA walk-ons, as his starting quarterback. He said they will split reps in the scrimmage.
• Tight end Emmanuel Simpson had an offer from the UA, but Nugent is unsure where he stands after the Cats recently received two other tight end commitments for 2014.
Pima sports this week
• Volleyball: Scrimmage against Central Arizona College at Pima at 5 p.m.
• Football: Scrimmage against Eastern Arizona College at Pima at 6 p.m.
• Women's soccer: TSA scrimmage at Pima at 10 a.m.