#ASunVB Serves Up Full Slate of Matches to Begin 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

MACON, Ga. - First serve for the 2013 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Season begins Friday, as all 10 teams participate in a busy opening weekend. The schedule includes 14 total matches on Friday and another full slate of 18 matches on Saturday.

All 10 teams will begin the season away from home, at locations reaching from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Laramie, Wyo. Six teams face opponents in this first weekend of play who finished in the top 80 of the RPI rankings last year, highlighted by Northern Kentucky's match with NCAA Tournament Final Four participant Michigan.

A-Sun Volleyball Notes (#ASunVB):

  • The A-Sun went 7-6 on opening day in the 2012 season with a pair of shutouts. Lipscomb and North Florida opened their seasons with a high degree of difficulty, as the Lady Bisons faced No. 13 Kentucky and the Ospreys battled No. 23 in the opening weekend. Kennesaw State toppled SEC foe Mississippi State in the league's opening weekend as well.
  • ETSU looks to defend its first ever regular season title in 2013 and give the state of Tennessee its eighth straight A-Sun volleyball championship. A total of 12 A-Sun Championship titles have been claimed as repeat championships. Lipscomb (2009, 2010, 2011) was the last team to earn consecutive A-Sun Championships.
  • Reigning A-Sun award winners Caitlin Dotson (Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Preseason First-Team All-Atlantic Sun) and Megan Devine (A-Sun Player of the Year, 2013 Preseason Player of the Year) are 2013 Senior CLASS Award nominees for volleyball. The duo helped the A-Sun join seven other conferences with multiple candidates on the list that included the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12, WAC and MAC.
  • ETSU's lone senior Megan Devine needs just 337 kills to become the A-Sun's career leader. Devine is currently ranked fifth all-time and is the career active leader with 1,410 kills. She also holds the A-Sun record for most double-doubles in a season with 25.
  • A-Sun teams were ranked in the top 50 of five of the seven NCAA statistical categories in 2012: Aces (USC Upstate 39th, 1.44), Assists (Lipscomb 16th, 13.46), Blocks (ETSU 30th, 2.64), Digs (Mercer 16th, 17.90; USC Upstate 34th, 17.42; North Florida 48th, 17.12), Kills (Lipscomb 7th, 14.54).
Atlantic Sun Volleyball Career Active Leaders
Kills Assists Digs Blocks Aces
Megan Devine, ETSU (1410, 5th) Kendall Courtney, Jacksonville (3528) Camille Pedraza, Kennesaw State (1221) Meredith Hardy, ETSU (290) Kendall Courtney, Jacksonville (128)
Kaley Melville, Stetson (865) Sara Metroka, KSU (3283) Megan Devine, ETSU (1100) Ellen Hawks, Stetson (279) Jill Hopper, FGCU (84)

  • JU's Kendall Courtney is the only player to return as a career active leader in two categories (assists, aces). Courtney was fifth in assists with 9.54 per set in 2012. The Dolphins also return reigning Freshman of the Year Sammie Strausbaugh, who finished fourth in service aces (.29/set) and tied for the A-Sun's high mark with six aces in a conference match.
  • FGCU (2012, 2007, 2008), ETSU (2006) and Lipscomb (2009, 2010) have claimed six of of the last seven A-Sun volleyball regular season championships.
  • ETSU junior Meredith Hardy set several conference records last season and returns as the career active leader in blocks with 290. Hardy's blocks in a season (201), blocks in a conference season (113) and average per season (1.45) are all new A-Sun high marks. Her 12 blocks in a conference match fell just one shy of tying the record as well.
  • The A-Sun Championship will be played in the state of Georgia for the first time since 2008, and host Kennesaw State will host its first ever volleyball championship, Nov. 21-23, at the KSU Convocation Center. The host has won the championship six times in the event's 28-year history, the last time by Lipscomb in 2011.
Top Atlantic Sun Volleyball Returners in 2012 NCAA Rankings
Aces Assists Blocks Digs Hitting Pct Kills Points
72nd, Jill Hopper, FGCU (.34) 8th, Caitlin Dotson, Lipscomb (11.67) 17th, Meredith Hardy, ETSU(1.45) 30th, Emily Rochefort, Mercer (5.34) 80th, Olivia Mesner, FGCU (.337) 66th, Megan Devine, ETSU (3.94) 57th, Megan Devine, ETSU (4.55)

  • North Florida fell to ETSU in a five-set thriller in its first ever A-Sun Championship final in 2012. The Ospreys led the A-Sun in opponent hitting pct. (.165) and were among the top three in assists, kills, blocks, aces and digs. Seniors Anna Budinska and Britt Claessens will be expected to lead this year's relatively inexperienced team in 2013. Claessens finished third in the A-Sun in assists per set (11.28) in 2012, which was also ranked 23rd nationally.
  • Lipscomb has been potent offensively over the years, leading the A-Sun in kills per set for the last four years and in assists for the last five. The Lady Bisons had three players selected to the 2013 Preseason All-Conference Team by the league's coaches: senior Caitlin Dotson and juniors Jewell Dobson and Lauren Ford. Dotson led the A-Sun in assists in 2012 with 11.67 per set.
  • KSU begins 2013 under first year head coach Keith Schunzel. The Owls return talent on the floor with Camille Pedraza, the A-Sun's active career leader in digs and Sara Metroka, who set the A-Sun high mark with 67 assists in a conference match in 2012. Cierra Royster and Keyaira Stevenson also had solid seasons last year, as Royster tallied the conference's second-best mark of 11 blocks in a match and Stevenson set the season high mark of 20 kills in a three-set match in A-Sun play.
  • FGCU's experienced squad is expected to be led by a pair of Preseason All-Atlantic Sun selections in Jill Hopper and Whitney Masters. Hopper was a unanimous First-Team All-Atlantic Sun selection in 2012, leading the A-Sun in aces per set (.34), recording 10 double-doubles and finishing 2012 ranked among the top 60 players in the nation in aces per set. Masters was selected as the 2013 Preseason Libero of the Year and First-Team All-Atlantic Sun by the coaches, leading FGCU with 421 digs in 2012 and tallying double-digit digs in 23 matches and 20 or more digs in five matches, including a match high of 27.
Atlantic Sun Volleyball 2012 Team Leaders
Kills Assists Digs Blocks Aces
Lipscomb, 14.54 Lipscomb, 13.46 Mercer, 17.79 ETSU, 2.64 USC Upstate, 1.44
Northern Kentucky, 14.08 Northern Kentucky, 13.03 USC Upstate, 17.42 FGCU, 2.23 Northern Kentucky, 1.37
North Florida, 13.75 North Florida, 12.88 North Florida, 17.12 North Florida, 1.85 North Florida, 1.29

  • Mercer returns the A-Sun leader in digs per set (5.32) in Emily Rochefort. The Bears' senior tallied 43 digs in a non-conference four-set match to set the A-Sun season high for digs in a match, and also set the high mark for digs in a three-set match with 25 in A-Sun play.
  • USC Upstate led the A-Sun in service aces last season, averaging 1.44 per set, while Lexi Gober averaged .33 per set to rank second individually as a freshman. The Spartans were also second in digs in 2012, and fan-voted 2013 Preseason Player of the Year Kayla McAvoy is the No. 5 returning player in kills based on her average of 3.25 per set in 2012.
  • FGCU was picked by the league coaches to finish first in 2013, perhaps because its roster looks to be most experienced. A dozen of the 15 players on the Eagles' roster are seniors or juniors, contrasted with 10th place Stetson, whose roster is comprised of 13 freshmen and sophomores.
  • Stetson's Kaley Melville and Ellen Hawks are second among career active leaders in kills (865) and blocks (279, respectively. Melville tied the conference season high with 25 kills in a non-conference match, and Hawks' nine blocks tied for fourth best in a match in 2012.
  • Northern Kentucky led the A-Sun in hitting percentage in 2012 (.246), driven by senior Jenna Ruble's league-leading percentage of .353. Led by a key group of departed seniors including Ruble, the Norse also set match highs in aces in match (15) and assists in a four-set match (72). A much younger NKU roster includes eight freshmen and sophomores in 2013.

Follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.