Thursday, August 30, 2012
MACON, Ga. - Week one of the 2012 A-Sun volleyball season yielded two tournament titles, a pair of most valuable player awards, double-digit all-tournament team selections and a few surprises.
Next up is a total of 37 matches spanning the next five days. This weekend, at least two teams will enjoy the comforts of home. Preseason favorite Lipscomb continues to work its way through a difficult opening schedule, welcoming 2011 NCAA Participant Missouri to the friendly confines of Allen Arena along with Appalachian State and Houston, while the Edmunds Center will be home to the Stetson Clarion Classic. The Hatters host Central Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, Wofford and Hampton.
The A-Sun's undefeated travel to weekend tournaments, as Northern Kentucky heads to the Comfort Inn & Suites in Morehead, Ky., while Kennesaw State travels southeast to the Savannah State Tiger Invitational.
ETSU joins Chattanooga, Charlotte and Clemson for the Clemson Classic, while FGCU wins the prize for distance traveled as the Eagles saddle up for the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic in Laramie, Wyo. USC Upstate and Mercer will face Furman, Canisius and host Charleston Southern in The Palmetto City, and Jacksonville will head to Orlando for the Holiday Inn UCF Tournament. North Florida rounds out the schedule also in Charleston, S.C., facing host College of Charleston, Memphis and Slovenia in the Courtyard Charleston North Classic.
A-Sun Notes (#ASunVB):
• The A-Sun posted a 16-15 mark and claimed two tournament titles in the first week of play. Conference leader Northern Kentucky claimed the Western Carolina Invitational title by winning its first three games in Division I, while Kennesaw State claimed the Mississippi State Maroon Classic in a five-set victory over the Bulldogs in Starkville.
• A-Sun teams have posted wins over teams from 11 of the 17 conferences they have faced, and hold a .500 or better winning percentage against eight of those, which include the Big South, MAAC, Sun Belt, Atlantic 10, MEAC, SWAC, MAC, and Horizon conferences.
• Northern Kentucky has made itself at home in the A-Sun, leading the conference in Hitting Percentage (.306), Assists (14.07/set) and Kills (15.50/set). They are also second in the A-Sun in Service Aces (2.14/set). Jenna Ruble is the A-Sun individual leader with a .520 hitting pct., while Jenna Schreiver also leads the A-Sun in assists with 12.21 per set.
• Kennesaw State opens the season 3-0 for the first time since the program began in 2006. The Owls are led by Preseason All-Conference selection Sara Metroka and Preseason Libero of the Year Camille Pedraza. Metroka is third in the A-Sun with 137 assists, averaging 10.54 assists per set, while Pedraza leads the A-Sun with 78 digs, averaging six per set. Metroka was the Maroon Classic MVP with 137 assists and 14 kills.
• ETSU begins the season 4-1 for the first time since the 2007. Reigning Player of the Week and Preseason Player of the Year Megan Devine is second in the A-Sun in kills with 84, averaging 4.20 per set. Kayla Williams is also second in the A-Sun with 127 assists, or 10.58 per set, and the Buc trio of Meredith Hardy (32, 1.60/set), Williams (15, 1.25/set) and Khadija Wiley (18, 1.06/set) lead the A-Sun in blocks.
• FGCU heads west to the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic this weekend with matchups against George Washington, UMKC and Bethune-Cookman. The Eagles open 2-1 for the second consecutive season, led by Olivia Mesner’s .347 hitting pct., which ranks fifth in the A-Sun. Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team selection Gigi Meyer is fifth in the conference in service aces (.45/set) and eighth in assists (5.00/set).
• USC Upstate begins the season 2-1 for the first time since 2009. Picked to finish 10th in the Preseason Coaches Poll, the Spartans are among the league’s best in several categories, ranking second in Assists (12.80/set), Kills (13.90/set) and Digs (19.00/set). Kayla McAvoy ranks second in the A-Sun in Hitting Pct. (.453) and third in Kills (3.89/set), while Morgan Page is also tied for second in Service Aces (.50/set) and second in Digs (5.30/set). McAvoy and Emily Sanders were also all-tournament selections last weekend in the Comfort Inn & Suites Invitational.
• Stetson (1-3) hosts the 2012 Stetson Clarion Classic this weekend at the Edmunds Center in Deland, which includes matchups against Central Arkansas (3-0), Florida Atlantic (0-0), Wofford (1-2) and Hampton (2-3). As expected, Kaley Meville (2.5 kills/set, Monique Russell (4.69 digs/set) and Kelli Carneal (3.76 assists/set) lead the Hatters.
• Three-time defending A-Sun champion Lipscomb has begun three of the last five seasons with an 0-3 record. In 2008 they finished the season 21-11 and lost in the A-Sun Championship final as the No. 1 seed. Last season the Bisons dropped their opening trio of games before finishing 20-11 (11-2 A-Sun) and winning their third straight A-Sun Championship. Lipscomb faces Missouri on Friday, the fourth 2011 NCAA Tournament participant in as many games for the Bisons.
• Mercer opens its season this weekend under new head coach Damian Elder at the Charleston Southern Invite, with matches scheduled against Furman, Canisius and Charleston Southern.
• Fellow first-year coaches Steve Loeswick (North Florida) and Michelle Collier (Jacksonville) look to rebound this weekend from 0-3 starts. UNF is in the top half of the A-Sun in Hitting Pct. (.182), Assists (11.00/set), Kills (11.50/set) and Service Aces (1.50/set). UNF’s Paige Pridgeon leads the A-Sun in Kills with 4.33/set and is the A-Sun’s active career leader in the category (1199.) JU’s Sammie Strausbaugh leads the team and is fifth in the A-Sun in kills with 3.27 per set. Kendall Courtney, who is the A-Sun’s active leader in assists and service aces, is seventh in the A-Sun in Assists (7.73/set).
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.