They'll begin as the nation's fourth ranked team. Their goal is to end number one.

That quest starts this weekend as the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team opens the 2017-18 campaign at the Seaside Invitational in San Diego. Last year's national runner-up gets the early wake-up call -- 8:30 local time Friday morning against the host UC San Diego. At 2:30 p.m. the Seawolves square off against Point Loma.

Head coach Chris Green is looking forward to the challenge to ready his team for what's to come later in the season.

"It's to our benefit," he said. "We want to play our very best. And that's going to help us prepare for GNAC and we want to try and defend our championship that we won the last two years."

And of course, make a return visit to the national title match -- this time winning it.

"There's definitely some pressure and we know that there's a target on our back so there's definitely a little more nerves going into these games," said junior outside hitter Leah Swiss (Dimond High School). "But that's the good thing with sports and especially with college so I'm really excited."

UAA's home opener is Thursday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. vs. Chico State. It's part of the West Region Showcase presented by Hilton Garden Inn. The Seawolves will also face California Baptist, Concordia University Irvine and Cal State San Bernardino during the two-day period.