Trojan Volleyball Opens Conference Action at Coker and WingateSeptember 12, 2013
ANDERSON, S.C. – Following a five-day layoff, the Anderson volleyball team wraps up its’ brutal season-opening six-match road swing at Coker and seven-time defending league champion Wingate this weekend.
Anderson (0-4) is coming off an appearance in the FSC/Terrace Hotel Classic, hosted by Florida Southern last Friday and Saturday in Lakeland, Fla. The Trojans squared off against No. 1 ranked Tampa and Northwood (Mich.), the defending GLIAC champions, who received votes in the latest AVCA Coaches’ Poll, as well as Wisconsin-Parkside, who received six votes in the Preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll. Anderson also faced host Florida Southern and Wisconsin-Parkside, both of whom earned votes in the Preseason AVCA Poll.
Second-team Preseason All-SAC selection Shannon Gillespie led the Trojans with 52 kills, including a pair of double-digit efforts over the two-day tourney. Junior Hailey Pittman added 40 kills, while redshirt freshmen Priscilla Irizarry and Tinsley Hallman tallied 21 and 20 kills, respectively. Meghan Cautero averaged nearly eight assists per set, with Alix Hooker recording 60 digs.
Friday’s conference opener at Coker marks the fourth time in five seasons that the Trojans will open their league slate on the road.
Coker is one of the SAC’s two newest members, along with Queens University of Charlotte. In their final campaign as a member of Conference Carolinas, the Cobras notched an 8-22 overall record, while falling to North Greenville in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, as Coker made its first trip to the conference tournament in five years. The Cobras were picked to finish 12th in the SAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Coker is 3-3 on the young season after opening the campaign at Emmanuel College’s Battle at the Springs last weekend. The Cobras then traveled to Barton Wednesday night, falling to the Bulldogs, 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15). Senior right-side hitter Taylor Willis earned all-tournament honors for her performance during the two-day tournament at Emmanuel, recording 51 kills, 11 service aces, three blocks and a .269 hitting percentage in five matches.
The Series vs. Coker
The Trojans are 19-7 versus Coker over the past 16 seasons and have won eight of the last 11 meetings, including six straight. The last meeting between the two teams occurred on the final day of the 2012 AU Invitational, with Anderson blanking the Cobras, 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-15). Pittman notched a match-high eight kills on the strength of a .467 attack percentage, while Gillespie added seven kills. Hooker tallied nine digs, with Cautero handing out 26 assists.
The perennially strong Bulldogs, currently ranked 16th nationally, were the preseason choice to claim their eighth straight conference title in 2013. Wingate finished last season ranked 23rd nationally after posting a 32-3 overall record and going 16-2 in the conference. Heading into the first full weekend of league play, the Bulldogs have won 98 of 100 SAC matches since 2007 and suffered just one home loss last season, while making their second NCAA Elite Eight run in three years
Wingate opens conference play at home versus Newberry Friday night and has posted a 3-2 record on the season, earning three wins at the Concordia-St. Paul Tournament, including victories over Indianapolis and Colorado School of Mines, which are tied for 19th in the latest AVCA Coaches’ Poll. The Bulldogs dropped decisions to No. 8 Wayne State and fourth-ranked Concordia, the six-time defending national champion. Senior Anna Hilton, last year's SAC Player of the Year, earned SAC Player of the Week honors last Monday after averaging 3.10 kills, 3.15 digs, 0.40 assists and 0.75 blocks per set.
The Series vs. Wingate
Anderson is looking for its second win in school history past the Bulldogs and its’ first since Oct. 1, 1999, when the Trojans were in their first year as a member of NCAA Division II. Wingate has won nine straight over AU and leads the overall series, 9-1.
The two teams last met in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Food Lion SAC Championship, with the top-seeded Bulldogs claiming a 3-1 victory. Anderson saw four players reach double figures, with middle blocker Tiffany Rowe wrapping up her career with a flourish, leading the Trojans with a season-high 13 kills and recorded four block assists on the afternoon. Gillespie added 12 kills and posted 19 digs, while Pittman tallied 11 kills. Kelley Lacey chipped in 10 kills and 23 digs, while Hooker posted a match-high 24 digs. Cautero dished out 27 assists.