Volleyball Looks to Get Back on Track with Weekend Road SwingOctober 24, 2013
ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson volleyball team will be looking to snap a two-game skid as the Trojans wrap up a three-match South Atlantic Conference road swing by traveling to Lincoln Memorial on Friday night and visiting Carson-Newman Saturday afternoon.
AU (9-9, 8-5 SAC) has suffered back-to-back setbacks on the heels of a four-match win streak and is currently tied for fifth place in the league standings, along with Tusculum.
Junior outside hitter Shannon Gillespie leads the Trojan offensive attack and ranks second in the league, averaging 3.96 kills per set, while teammate Hailey Pittman adds 3.04 kills per set and is ninth in the SAC. Gillespie has posted 13 double-double matches on the season, including nine straight, while Pittman has posted 12 double-figure kill efforts on the year and is eighth in the conference with her .304 hitting percentage. The two standouts have also combined to earn a pair of SAC Player of the Week accolades.
Junior Alix Hooker, who is 10th all-time in AU’s career record books for digs, averages a team-high 4.55 digs per set and ranks sixth in the league. Fellow junior Meghan Cautero leads the team and ranks ninth in the league with nearly eight assists per set. Freshman Jessica Harris leads the Trojans with 50 total blocks on the season and ranks ninth in the league, averaging 0.72 per set. Another newcomer, Tinsley Hallman, has 25 service aces and is tied for fourth in the SAC.
The Lady Railsplitters
LMU is looking to earn its sixth consecutive NCAA Southeast Regional appearance this fall after notching a 21-14 mark in 2012. LMU finished third in the SAC regular-season standings last season and was predicted to finish third this season, as well, behind Wingate and Tusculum.
Lincoln Memorial is 13-8 overall and 9-4 in the league on the season and has dropped two of its’ last three contests. But the Lady Railsplitters are an undefeated 5-0 at home in the friendly confines of Mars Gym. LMU is coming off a seven-day layoff after dropping a 3-1 (25-13, 14-25, 24-26, 18-25) decision at Mars Hill last Thursday. Sophomore Jazzy Oates led the Lady Railsplitters with 12 kills, while adding five digs and three block assists. Freshman Abby Cash led all players with 31 assists to go along with 19 digs. Sophomore Casey Mense paced the Lady Railsplitters with 24 digs and three service aces.
The Series vs. Lincoln Memorial
The Trojans and Lady Railsplitters have met 12 times over the last 11 seasons, including eight meetings since AU joined the South Atlantic Conference for the 2010 campaign. LMU holds a 10-2 advantage in the overall series between the two schools, with Anderson snapping a nine-match skid at the hands of the Lady Railsplitters on Sept. 20, as the Trojans claimed a 3-2 win at the Abney Athletic Center.
The last meeting between the two teams saw Pittman tally a career-high 24 kills on a .408 attack percentage, while Gillespie also notched 24 kills and added 13 digs for her third double-double of the season. Cautero was just one assist shy of a career-high after finishing with 54 assists. Junior Alix Hooker posted a team-best 22 digs, with junior Kelley Lacey adding 21 digs. Hallman finished with 11 digs and five kills on the night. Pittman rounded out her effort with a season-best five block assists.
The Eagles narrowly missed the conference tournament last season, while recording an 11-16 overall mark a year ago and were selected ninth in this year’s Preseason SAC Coaches Poll, just ahead of the Trojans. Carson-Newman (9-11, 4-9 SAC) has dropped two straight and five of its last six outings, while notching a 4-3 record at home this season.
Carson-Newman opens a four-match homestand Friday night versus Newberry and just concluded a five-match conference road swing with a 3-0 loss last Tuesday night at Tusculum. The Eagles hit .117 as a team and committed 24 attack errors in the setback. Rachel Harper and Jalesa Beaver each collected nine kills while Kiayna O'Neal finished with eight. Kristen Pickett notched her fifth double-double of the season with 30 assists and 11 digs.
The Series vs. Carson-Newman
The Trojans and Eagles have met just nine times over the past 16 seasons, with seven of the matchups occurring since AU joined the league in 2010. Carson-Newman holds a narrow 5-4 edge in the overall series that began in 2008 after winning the first four meetings with the Trojans. But Anderson has won four of its last five matchups versus the Eagles, including a sweep of last season’s regular-season series that saw the Trojans blank C-N, 3-0, on both occasions.
The two teams last met on Sept. 21, with AU again sweeping the Eagles, 3-0 (27-25, 25-17, 25-18) on the strength of a trio of double-doubles from Gillespie, Lacey and Cautero. Gillespie led all players with 14 kills and added 15 digs for her second straight double-double and fourth of the season. The junior from Fishers, Ind. also tallied a pair of service aces on the afternoon. Lacey added 11 kills and 12 digs for her first double-double of the campaign, while Cautero tallied a match-high 34 assists and 12 digs for her third double-double of the season. Pittman recorded 10 kills and two block assists. Hooker notched a match-best 18 digs defensively