This Week in Atlantic Sun Volleyball: Sept. 5

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

MACON, Ga. – Atlantic Sun Volleyball heads into week three action with a total of 34 matches scheduled from Friday, Sept. 7, through Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Four A-Sun teams will face opponents who were 2011 NCAA Tournament participants: No. 16 Florida, Arizona, Samford and Western Kentucky. Jacksonville plays the Gators on Sept. 7 at the Active Ankle Invitational, and on Sept. 8 Lipscomb squares off with host Arizona in the Arizona Invitational and Samford faces Mercer in Atlanta in the Georgia State Invitational. On Sept. 11, Lipscomb faces its sixth 2011 NCAA Tournament participant in 11 matches, as the Bisons travel to Western Kentucky to battle the Hilltoppers.

Kennesaw State and North Florida also play host to tournaments this weekend. KSU hosts North Carolina Central, Tennessee State and Troy in the KSU Owls Classic, Sept. 7-8, in the KSU Convocation Center, while North Florida welcomes Presybterian, Florida A&M and Davidson to the Radisson/North Florida Invitational.

On Sept. 11, three home A-Sun matches include Stetson hosting Florida Atlantic, ETSU hosting Western Carolina and UNC Ashville traveling to USC Upstate.

• The A-Sun is now 28-34 (.452) through the first two weeks of regular season play. A-Sun teams have posted wins over teams from 12 Divison I conferences and hold a .500 or better winning percentage against the Atlantic 10, Big South, Horizon, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, MVC, OVC, Sun Belt, and SWAC conferences.

• New kid on the block Northern Kentucky is the first A-Sun team since 2005 to open the regular season with seven or more wins without a loss. Florida Atlantic was the last to do so in 2005, going 15-0 en route to a 29-3 overall record and a 9-0 mark in the conference. FAU won its third A-Sun championship that year and lost 3-0 to the Florida Gators in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

• NKU leads the A-Sun in Hitting Percentage (.248), Assists (13.40/set), Kills (14.68/set) and Service Aces (2.04/set). They are also second in the A-Sun in Opponent Hitting Pct. (.127). Jenna Ruble is the A-Sun individual leader with a .378 hitting pct., while Jenna Schreiver also leads the A-Sun in assists with 11.84 per set. Schreiver recorded her 4,000th career assist last weekend against Alabama A&M and now has 4,021 for her career.

• ETSU is enjoying its best A-Sun regular season start since 2006-07, when the Bucs went 6-3 through their first nine games and finished 25-7 (8-0 A-Sun). Week one Player of the Week and Preseason Player of the Year Megan Devine leads the A-Sun in Kills with 145, averaging 4.26 per set. The Bucs also lead the A-Sun in Blocks (2.79/set) and are second in Hitting Pct. (.244) and Kills (12.82/set).

• New Mercer Head Coach Damian Elder began his career successfully, going 2-1 at the Charleston Southern Invite last weekend with a loss to Furman and wins against Canisius and host Charleston Southern. Georgia Southern brought the Bears to 2-2 with a 3-0 win on Tuesday. Mercer leads the A-Sun in Opponent Hitting Pct. (.154) and is second in Digs (17.07/set), and Emily Rochefort is also second in Digs with 4.86 per set.

• FGCU has fared .500 or better in its first two weekends, winning two of three in Gainesville, Fla., then splitting its four games at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic in Laramie last weekend. Junior Christine Pinder leads the Eagles in kills (2.62/set) and Preseason All-Conference selection Gigi Meyer leads the team in assists averaging 4.88 per set.

• After opening the season 3-0, Kennesaw State is looking to rebound from its 1-3 weekend at Savannah State. Preseason Libero of the Year Camille Pedraza leads the A-Sun with 129 digs, or 5.16/set, and the Owls are second as a team in the category with 16.92/set.

• USC Upstate finished 0-3 in Charleston last weekend, and now takes a 10-day hiatus before returning to the court on Sept. 11 to host UNC Ashville in the Hodge Center. Emily Bingham earned all-tournament honors at the Willie Jewell’s Volleyball Invitational, averaging 3.50 kills per set. She also led the team in hitting percentage with a .275 mark and added five assists on the weekend and 11 digs. Bingham is fifth in the conference in Hitting Pct. (.306) and the Spartans also lead the A-Sun in Digs (17.50/set).

• North Florida Head Coach Steve Loeswick also got his first career indoor win as the Ospreys split at the Courtyard Charleston North Classic with a win over host Charleston Southern and loss to Memphis. UNF is third in the A-Sun in Hitting Pct. (.175), while Dagnija Medina is second in Hitting Pct (.354) and leads the A-Sun in Service Aces with 13 (.65/set).

• Lipscomb plays its fifth and sixth 2011 NCAA Tournament participant in Arizona and Western Kentucky in two of its next four matches. The Wildcats host the Bisons along with Iona and TCU in the Arizona Invitational, Sept. 7-8, then Lipscomb travels to Western Kentucky on Sept. 11. The Bisons are in the top half of the conference in five statistical categories, ranking second in Assists (12.58/set) and Kills (13.42/set). Caitlin Dotson leads the team and is second in the A-Sun in Assists (261), averaging 10.88 per set.

• Stetson’s 32 points in the first set of Tuesday night’s 3-0 win vs. Bethune-Cookman is the highest point total in a match for the Hatters since 2007. Monique Russell ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 4.69 digs per set and the Hatters are third in the conference in blocks, averaging 1.81 per set.

• Jacksonville heads to Gainesville to face No. 16 Florida, along with Georgia Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette in the Active Ankle Invitational. Michelle Collier is looking for her first indoor win as head coach. Freshman Sammie Strausbaugh is second in the A-Sun in Kills (3.59/set).