This Week in Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball: Oct. 25
This weekend ETSU faces two key matchups with second place Lipscomb and third place Northern Kentucky.
This weekend ETSU faces two key matchups with second place Lipscomb and third place Northern Kentucky.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

MACON, Ga. – With the end of the regular season just a few games away, a dozen key A-Sun matchups this weekend could significantly impact the five remaining spots for the A-Sun Volleyball Championship, Nov. 15-17.

ETSU goes on the road to face two of the top three teams ahead of it in the standings, while Kennesaw State, North Florida and Mercer battle each other to break their three-way tie for sixth place. FGCU puts its undefeated mark against the lowest two ranked teams in the conference, and USC Upstate looks to continue its three-game winning streak.

A-Sun Volleyball Quick Notes (#ASunVB)

• FGCU has now won 13 straight matches, 12 of those in conference. The last team to win as many consecutive matches was Lipscomb in 2011-12, as the Bisons won 14 straight (nine straight A-Sun matches) from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22. The last string of consecutive A-Sun matches was Lipscomb’s impressive 41-match A-Sun win streak that stretched over three seasons from 2009 to 2011. This is the best start for the Eagles since the 2008-09 season, when they went 11-1 through 12 A-Sun matches and finished the season 18-2 (.900). The Eagles lead the A-Sun in four team statistical categories: hitting pct (.275), opponent hitting pct (.180), assists (13.65/set), and kills (14,72/set). Individually, Olivia Mesner leads the A-Sun in hitting pct (.455).

• On the strength of consecutive wins over Jacksonville, Mercer and ETSU, USC Upstate now sits in fifth place in the current A-Sun standings. The Spartans lead the A-Sun in service aces (1.49/set) and digs (18.21) as a team and are No. 40 in the nation in aces and No. 13 in digs. Lexi Gober leads the A-Sun in aces (.42/set) and Emily Sanders is second in digs (4.90/set). The Spartans are 2-3 away from Spartanburg and lost to Lipscomb (3-0) and NKU (3-1) earlier this season.

• Two wins away from clinching its spot in the A-Sun Championship, Lipscomb begins a five-match homestand this weekend, hosting ETSU, resurgent USC Upstate and NKU. The Bisons defeated the Bucs 3-1 earlier in Johnson City and have won the last three meetings with ETSU in Nashville. USC Upstate is winless against the Bisons since joining the A-Sun in 2007. Lipscomb escaped Highland Heights, Ky., with a tough 3-2 victory in the A-Sun opener for the Norse. As a team Lipscomb is in the top three in the conference in hitting percentage (.244), opponent hitting pct (.194), assists (13.37) and kills (14.44). Caitlyn Dotson leads the A-Sun in assists (11.39/set) and teammates Kaycee Green (4.17/set) and Jewell Dobson (3.76) are second and third, respectively, in kills and Dobson is second in hitting pct (.373).

• Three of the five teams hosting A-Sun matches over the next few days have winning records at home this season. Lipscomb will play three at home in Allen Arena, where they are 3-1 this season. Kennesaw State hosts UNF and Jacksonville at the KSU Convocation Center, but the Owls are 2-5 in A-Sun play at home. LIkewise, Mercer welcomes the Dolphins and the Ospreys to its home court, where the record is 2-4. Northern Kentucky is just above .500 at 3-2 in Regents Hall as it hosts USC Upstate and ETSU. FGCU welcomes Stetson and Jacksonville to the Alico Center, where the Eagles are 5-0 this season.

• Stetson will find the chase for its first conference victory getting even tougher this weekend, as the Hatters take the court against A-Sun leader FGCU on Saturday. Stetson has beaten FGCU only once since the Eagles joined the A-Sun in 2007 and the Hatters have never beaten FGCU in Ft. Myers. The Hatters defeated FGCU last season in Deland for one of only four conference wins for Stetson in the last four years.

• North Florida will need to remain focused this weekend as the Ospreys travel to Mercer and Kennesaw State. All three teams are currently tied at in sixth place at 5-7 in the A-Sun, and both KSU and Mercer have special events scheduled as part of the weekend’s matches. KSU will host UNF in their Pink Night, while Mercer’ will honor seniors on Saturday. Kennesaw State leads the all-time series 6-3 and won this season’s earlier match 3-0, while UNF holds a 9-7 edge in the all-time series with Mercer.

• With just a few matches left to secure one of the top six of the A-Sun standings, ETSU is staring at two key matches this weekend. The Bucs travel to second-place Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky to wrap up a four-game road swing, two games behind the Bisons and tied with the Norse. Lipscomb leads the all-time series with ETSU 10-5, including a four-set win over the Bucs back on Oct. 6 in Johnson City. The Bucs defeated Northern Kentucky in five sets on Oct. 5. Megan Devine leads the A-Sun in double-doubles (16) and kills per set (4.0), while Meredith Hardy and Khadijah Wiley (1.1) rank one-two in blocks per set and the Bucs are 30th in the nation in blocks per set (2.7).

• As always, tune in to ASun.TV for live A-Sun volleyball action at no charge or check out the live scoreboard at www.atlanticsun.org.