KSU Volleyball Soars Past Miss. State, Tied Atop the A-Sun

Saturday, August 25, 2012

MACON, Ga. – Kennesaw State volleyball outlasted Mississippi State for a 3-2 victory on Saturday, claiming the Mississippi State Maroon Classic title with a 3-0 record and moving into a tie for first place with the A-Sun’s newest member and fellow weekend tournament winner, Northern Kentucky.

In the A-Sun’s final match of the weekend, the Owls dropped their opening set to the Bulldogs, and then claimed two of the next three for the victory (23-25, 25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 15-11). KSU had three players with double-digit kills for the match, led by Turea Jones with 18. Jones also added 21 digs. Baylee Strachan added 15 kills and Keyaira Stevenson contributed 14.

Preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection Sara Metroka was named tournament MVP after a combined 137 assists and 14 kills. A-Sun Preseason Libero of the Year Camille Pedraza earned All-Tournament honors with 78 digs, including a single game career high of 31 in the championship match.

KSU defeated Louisiana-Monroe 3-1 (25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-12) on Friday, then had little trouble with 2011 Southwestern Athletic Conference Champion and NCAA Tournament participant Jackson State 3-1 (25-9, 22-25, 25-14, 25-20) in the first game of Saturday’s double header to move to 2-0 before facing the Bulldogs.

Northern Kentucky (3-0) also claimed a title for the A-Sun, sweeping the Western Carolina Invitational with a 3-0 (25-9, 25-9, 25-11) win over St. Peters, a 3-1 (25-20, 33-35, 25-19, 25-12) win over Western Carolina and a 3-1 (25-15, 22-25, 25-12, 25-19) victory over North Carolina A&T. Additionally, Norse seniors Jenna Schreiver and Haley Lippert were awarded tournament honors, as both were named to the WCU Invitational All-Tournament team and Lippert as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Two other A-Sun teams emerged from the weekend with winning records, ETSU with a 3-1 mark and FGCU at 2-1. The Buccaneers defeated UNC Ashville (3-2) and Temple (3-0) on Friday at the USC Gamecock Invitational, then split in today’s action with a 3-1 victory over Akron and a tough 3-2 loss to the host Gamecocks. Megan Devine and Meredith Hardy earned All-Tournament honors for the Buccaneers.

FGCU opened its season at the Campus USA Credit Union Invite hosted by the University of Florida. The Eagles defeated Florida A&M (3-1) on Friday, and then split in Saturday’s action with a victory over Florida International (3-2) a loss to No. 18 Florida, 3-0. Junior Kaitlin Holm earned All-Tournament Team honors for the Eagles.

In other weekend action, USC Upstate (1-1) defeated Tennessee Tech 3-0, then fell to Chattanooga 1-3 at the Comfort Inn & Suites Invitational in Chattanooga. Emily Sanders and Kayla McAvoy earned All-Tournament honors for the Spartans.

Stetson recorded a 1-3 mark at the ISTAP Invitational in Montgomery, Ala., losing 3-2 to Jacksonville State, 3-0 to South Dakota, and 3-1 to Tennessee State while defeating Alabama State 3-1. Junior Ellen Hawks was selected to the All-Tournament team for the Hatters after recording 10 kills in the pair of matches on Saturday.

Jacksonville, Lipscomb and North Florida each opened the 2012 season with records of 0-3. The Dolphins fell to North Carolina State, 3-0, to the College of Charleston, 3-2, and to Sacramento State, 3-0, at the Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley Invitational in Charleston, S.C. Junior Kendall Courtney had 70 assists between the two matches (50, CofC; 20, SSU) to earn all-tournament honors for the Dolphins.

Lipscomb’s opening schedule was a difficult one, facing three teams that were 2011 NCAA Participants, including 2012 preseason No. 13 Kentucky in Lexington at the Kentucky Classic. After falling to Long Beach State 3-0 on Friday, the Bisons pushed the Wildcats to the limit before eventually falling, 3-2. North Carolina also claimed a 3-0 victory over Lipscomb. LU sophomore Lauren Ford earned Kentucky Classic All-Tournament Team honors after averaging nearly a double-double throughout the tourney. In three matches, Ford notched 32 kills and added 28 digs, including a career high 14 against No. 13 Kentucky earlier in the day.

North Florida fell to one of the SEC’s newest members, Missouri, 3-0, in the first of two Friday matches. In the double-header the Ospreys were matched against Preseason No. 23 Michigan, and the Wolverines claimed a 3-1 victory. North Florida lost its final match of the Missouri Tiger Invitational to Nicholls State, 3-2. Paige Pridgeon earned a spot on the All-Tournament team for her play, registering 52 kills in three matches, averaging 4.33 kills per set, and hitting .254. She also had 22 digs and four aces.

A-Sun volleyball action continues on Aug. 28 with two matches on the schedule, as ETSU hits the road again to face Presbyterian at 6 p.m. (EST) and Northern Kentucky heads to Wright State for a 7 p.m. (EST) start.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.