Volleyball Looks to Extend Win Streak On Homecoming WeekendOctober 17, 2013
ANDERSON, S.C. – Following a five-day layoff, the Anderson volleyball team returns home this weekend to face South Atlantic Conference foes Coker and Wingate for the second time this season. First-serve versus the Cobras is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at the Abney Athletic Center.
Friday night’s contest versus the Cobras will mark the half-way point of Anderson’s league slate - AU has yet to face Lenoir-Rhyne – as the Trojans have moved above .500 overall on the season on the strength of its three-game win streak. With a win Friday night, Anderson (8-7, 7-3 SAC) would equal its longest win streak of the season.
The reigning SAC Player of the Week and Second-Team Preseason All-SAC selection, Shannon Gillespie, leads the conference in kills per set (3.95 k/s) and ranks second in overall kills with 233. The outside hitter posted her sixth straight double-double and 10th of the season in AU’s four-set road win at Catawba last Saturday. Junior Hailey Pittman, who earned Player of the Week honors in September, ranks 10th in the SAC by averaging 3.03 kills per set and is ninth with her .291 hitting percentage. Meghan Cautero ranks eighth in the conference with her 8.21 assists per set, while redshirt freshman Priscilla Irizarry averages 2.52 eight assists per set. Junior Alix Hooker leads a balanced defensive effort with 4.53 digs per set, which is good enough for sixth in the league.
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 2013 SAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Coker, which is looking to snap a 14-game losing skid, is 3-16 overall on the season and 0-11 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Cobras are coming off a 3-0 road setback at Tusculum last Saturday and will wrap up a four-game league road swing at Newberry this Saturday. Coker’s last victory came during Emmanuel College’s Battle at the Springs in early September – a 3-1 win over Point University. 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 20-7 versus Coker over the past 16 seasons and have won nine of the last 12 meetings, including seven straight. Paced by Gillespie’s match-high 18 kills, AU earned its first win of the young season, 3-1, past the Cobras in the conference-opener for both squads in mid-September. Gillespie added nine digs, while Pittman tallied 12 kills and Irizarry notched six kills. Cautero handed out a match-best 33 assists and added a pair of service aces, while Hooker collected 12 digs.
The perennially strong Bulldogs are ranked 13th in the latest American Volleyball Coaches’ Association (AVCA) Poll - the highest ranking in school history for the storied program. Wingate was the preseason choice to claim its eighth straight conference title in 2013 after finishing last season ranked 23rd nationally and posting a 32-3 overall record, while making their second NCAA Elite Eight run in three years. The Bulldogs went 16-2 in the conference a year ago, when they suffered back-to-back losses to Tusculum and Lenoir-Rhyne.
Wingate (15-2, 11-0 SAC) is on a 12-match win streak and has won 26 consecutive league matches dating back to last season. The Bulldogs, who are coming off a 3-1 road win over Mars Hill, are led by reigning SAC Player of the Year and AVCA third team All-American Anna Hilton. All-Region selection Lexi Potter ranks fourth in the league with a .342 hitting percentage and sophomore outside hitter Shelly Stumpff, the SAC and Region Freshman of the Year in 2012, is averaging a league-best 0.63 aces per set during conference play. The Bulldogs lead the SAC in hitting percentage, kills per set, assists per set and 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 10 straight over AU and leads the overall series, 10-1.
The two teams last met on Sept. 14, with the Bulldogs taking a 3-1 decision past Anderson. After dropping the opening set, AU took an early lead in the second frame and never trailed until the Bulldogs made a late charge to take a brief 24-22 edge. But the Trojans held off match point twice before capitalizing on three consecutive Wingate errors to take the set victory. However, the homestanding Bulldogs went on to win the final two sets and claim the victory. Pittman recorded a season-high 16 kills, which was just five shy of her career-high set last season and came on the strength of a .364 attack percentage. Gillespie recorded nine kills and eight digs, while Cautero dished out 32 assists. Hooker notched 15 digs, with Irizarry chipping in nine.