This Week in A-Sun Volleyball: Sept. 20

Thursday, September 20, 2012

MACON, Ga. – Six teams have opened their A-Sun seasons and the remaining four teams open conference play this weekend as a total of 12 matches are on the schedule from Sept. 21 through Sept. 25.

Lipscomb, Kennesaw State and Mercer claimed victories in their openers on Sept. 18. North Florida, Jacksonville, Stetson and FGCU are also ready to commence their conference seasons with victories, but each will have to do so on the road. JU heads to Nashville to face Lipscomb, Stetson travels to Macon to battle the Bears, North Florida gets its first look at Northern Kentucky and FGCU takes the court in Kennesaw.

Fans can catch eight of the 12 scheduled matches on ASun.TV, follow the action online with the new A-Sun live scoreboard or links to live stats, and of course get updates on social media via twitter at #ASunVB and @ASunPR.

A-Sun Notes (#ASunVB)

• North Florida is currently the hottest team in the A-Sun, as the Ospreys are winners of seven straight. North Florida ranked sixth in the Sept. 18 NCAA Statistical rankings, averaging 18.44 digs per set. The Ospreys’ senior setter, Nicole Baran, ranked second in the nation in digs (5.91/set) along with Dagnija medina, who placed 11th (.53/set) in service aces. The Ospreys’ streak may be in danger this weekend, however, as they face Northern Kentucky on Friday, then travel to face three-time defending A-Sun Champion Lipscomb on Saturday.

• Kennesaw State won its A-Sun opener for the third time in the last six years and is off to the best start in program history. The Owls sit atop the A-Sun following their win over USC Upstate on Tuesday, and host FGCU and Stetson this weekend in both teams’ A-Sun openers. From their first conference match on Tuesday, the Owls lead the A-Sun in assists (18.00/set) and kills (19.00/set), while ranking fourth in both categories overall. Three Owls led the A-Sun statistically in last night’s openers: Keyaira Stevenson (5.00 kills/set), Sara Metroka (16.75 assists/set) and EmilyBean (.75 service aces/set). The Owls are 5-0 at home this season.

• Mercer has won three staight and was ranked among the nation’s best in the Sept. 18 NCAA rankings in digs as a team and individually. Prior to Tuesday night’s action, the Bears were ranked No. 2 in digs with 19.28 per set, while Emily Rochefort was No. 5 with 5.83/set. Updated stats have the Bears leading the A-Sun with 18.67 digs per set and Rochefort trailing only UNF’s Nicole Baran in the conference with 5.64 digs per set. Baran was also ranked No. 2 in Sept. 18 NCAA statistics. Molly Lockeis currently third in the A-Sun in kills, averaging 3.59 per set.

• Career highs from Lauren Ford (20 kills, 10 digs) and Catilin Dotson (54 assists) helped Lipscomb win its A-Sun opener for the fifth time in the last six years, defeating newcomer Northern Kentucky, 3-2. Ford is second in the A-Sun in kills (3.73/set) and Dotson is third in assists (10.85). As a team the Bisons are also second in the league in assists (12.59/set) and third in kills (13.46/set). The Bisons host Jacksonville and North Florida in their A-Sun openers on Sept. 21 and 22, respectively. Lipscomb has not dropped a set to JU or UNF since the 2008 season, when they defeated both 3-2. The Bisons are also 19-2 in September conference matches in the last five years.

• USC Upstate checked in at No. 10 in the nation in the latest NCAA statistics, averaging 18.08/set. The Spartans dropped their A-Sun opener, 3-1, to Kennesaw State, and travel to Johnson City, Tenn., to face ETSU on Sept. 22. The Spartans are 1-4 in their last five matches vs. the Bucs. With one conference match in the books, Upstate’s Kayla McAvoy is third in the A-Sun in hitting pct. (.545) and tied for fourth in kills (4.00/set).

• ETSU is 2-0 at home this season, but has dropped four of its last five and lost the A-Sun opener for the only the second time in eight years. Megan Devine leads the conference in kills (3.93/set) and Meredith Hardy is tops in blocks (1.29/set). ETSU is 4-1 vs. USC Upstate in their last five meetings.

• Northern Kentucky dropped its A-Sun opener, 3-2, to three-time defending A-Sun Champion Lipscomb on Sept. 18. The Norse have lost back-to-back matches only once under Coach Liz Hart, in losses to Wisconsin-Parkside (3-2) and Lewis (3-1) in 2011. As NKU is in its transition period to Division I, it is not currently ranked in the NCAA statistics. However, the Norse remain relevant among the nation’s best in several categories: ACES 5th 1.86/set ASSISTS T-No. 39 13.08/set KILLS T-No. 27 14.29/set W-L Pct. T-No. 25 12-2, .857

• Four teams begin conference play this weekend: Jacksonville, North Florida, Stetson and FGCU. The Dolphins are 1-4 in their last five A-Sun openers and have lost their last nine meetings against Lipscomb. JU last defeated the Bisons on Nov. 5, 2005, a 3-1 victory in Jacksonville. North Florida is 3-1 in its last four A-Sun openers. The Ospreys face NKU for the first time. Stetson is 1-4 in its last five A-Sun openers and 1-8 in the last nine meetings against Mercer. FGCU is 5-0 in A-Sun openers since joining the A-Sun in 2007, and 5-2 all-time against the Owls. However, KSU has won the last two meetings, 3-0 and 3-1.