ANDERSON, S.C. – After concluding a season-high three-match South Atlantic Conference road swing with a win on Saturday, the Anderson volleyball team closes out the month of October by playing host to Peach Belt Conference-opponent Lander Tuesday night at the Abney Athletic Center. First-serve is slated for 7 p.m.
AU (10-10, 9-6 SAC) snapped a three-game winless streak with Saturday’s four-set, 3-1 (25-7, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17) win past Carson-Newman and is currently alone in sixth place in the league standings, but is just one game out of second place, as there are four teams tied for the second spot.
In the road win past Carson-Newman, juniors Hailey Pittman and Shannon Gillespie, along with freshman Priscilla Irizarry, notched double-figure kills for the second straight match. Pittman finished with a match-high 18 kills on the strength of a .485 hitting percentage and added two digs, four blocks and a pair of service aces on the afternoon. Gillespie tallied 16 kills and eight digs, narrowly missing her 15th double-double of the season. Irizarry displayed her versatility by posting a rare triple-double with 11 kills, 15 assists and 10 digs on the day. The redshirt freshman also chipped in five blocks, which was just one shy of equaling her season high. Junior Meghan Cautero recorded her second straight double-double and seventh of the season with 27 assist and 11 digs, while teammate Alix Hooker recorded a team-high 16 digs.
Offensively, Gillespie leads the Trojans with 3.96 kills per set, while Pittman adds 3.23 kills per set. The 5-foot-10 Gillespie is second in the SAC in kills per set, while Pittman ranks ninth in the league. Gillespie has recorded 14 double-double matches on the season and saw her streak of 10 straight halted at Carson-Newman. Pittman has posted 14 double-figure kill efforts on the year and is third in the conference with her .328 hitting percentage. The two standouts have also combined to earn a pair of SAC Player of the Week accolades.
Hooker, who moved into 10th-place all-time in AU’s career record books for digs earlier this season, averages a team-high 4.64 digs per set and ranks fifth in the league. Cautero leads the team and ranks seventh in the league with nearly eight assists per set. Freshman Jessica Harris leads the Trojans with 55 total blocks on the season and is tied for seventh in the league, averaging 0.71 per set. Another newcomer, Tinsley Hallman, has 30 service aces and is tied for third in the SAC.
The Bearcats reached the semifinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament last season and have bounced back from an uncharacteristic 15-17 mark a year ago. Lander improved to 15-8 overall and 6-7 in the PBC with a 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-23) conference win over UNC Pembroke on Saturday. The Bearcats’ Kendall Korte and Jessica Register both tallied double-doubles to lead the Bearcats to their third straight win. Korte had 15 kills and 11 digs and Register added 45 assists and 13 digs to lead the Bearcats. Tarryn Angermeier and Hannah Dederick added 14 kills each, while Kaitlyn Harrison had 21 digs and Kiki Hennessey 11 digs.
Second-year head coach and former Lander standout, Ashley Stathas, has led the Bearcats to a 2-1 record versus teams from the SAC this season, as LU swept Brevard, 3-0, in the season opener and also blanked Lincoln Memorial, 3-0, while falling 3-1 at home to Newberry.
After being named Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year following last season, Stathas’ squad was a preseason pick to finish sixth in the Peach Belt Conference this season.
The Series vs. Lander
Despite being located less than 45 miles apart, the Trojans and Bearcats have met just 11 times over the last 16 seasons, with Lander holding an 8-3 advantage in the overall series. Anderson won two of the first three matches between the two schools, then snapped a seven-match skid at the hands of the Bearcats last season.
The last meeting between the two teams saw Anderson use a balanced offensive attack and defensive effort to defeat Lander 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 10-25, 25-20, 15-5) at Horne Arena in Sept. 18, 2012. Gillespie notched her fifth double-double of the season with a team-high 18 kills and added 22 digs, while Pittman recorded 16 kills on the strength of a .342 attack percentage. Cautero also posted a double-double (49 assists, 11 digs) and Hooker added 26 digs, with Kelley Lacey recording 11 digs.