ANDERSON, S.C. – Following a successful opening weekend in the Low Country, the Anderson University volleyball team will travel up Interstate 85 to the Tar Heel State for four matches at the two-day Queens Fall Classic, Friday and Saturday at the Royals' Levine Center.
Anderson (4-0) opens this weekend's event by facing Augusta, Friday at 12:45 p.m., then squares off against another Peach Belt Conference-foe, Georgia College at 7:30 p.m. AU will close out the tourney against a pair of teams from Conference Carolinas on Saturday, as the Trojans are slated to face Barton at 12:15 p.m. and Converse at 4:45 p.m.
Queens Ticket Information
$5 - Adults (anyone 18)
$3 - Children (17 and under), Seniors (age 60 and older) and non-Queens students with valid college ID
Free- Children 3 and under
Anderson has opened the season with four consecutive victories for the second straight year and the fourth time in seven seasons. The Trojans closed out the Coker/Francis Marion Invitational with three straight sweeps, as AU blanked the host Patriots, Virginia Union and UNC Pembroke after opening the campaign with a four-set win over Indianapolis.
In the early NCAA rankings, the Trojans are ninth in the nation in assists per set (14.00/set) and 20th nationally in kills per set (14.38/set), while holding opponents to a 0.081 hitting percentage and ranking 20th nationally. The Trojans lead the South Atlantic Conference in kills (187) and assists (182) and are second in block assists (38) and third with 22 service aces.
Junior setter Emily Conlin leads the nation in assists per set (13.00/set) and ranks 17th nationally in aces per set (.80/set) after dishing out a league-high 130 assists last weekend, including a season-high 50 assists in the win over UIndy. The Glendale, Ariz., native also came up with 16 digs versus the Greyhounds for her first double-double of the season and has tallied double-figure assists in all four contests. Conlin also paces the SAC with eight service aces on the season.
Putting her versatility on display, senior Jayln Knight notched a pair of double-doubles last weekend and ranks seventh in the league with 35 kills, ninth with four aces, 11th in kills per set (3.18/set) and 17th with her .241 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Grube opened the season by posting back-to-back double-doubles last weekend and is fourth in the conference in kills per set (3.70/set), while sharing fifth place in the SAC with a team-high 37 kills. She leads the Trojans and ranks 15th in the league with a .261 hitting percentage, while standing 11th with 3.20 digs per set.
Junior outside hitter Kathryn Hughes is 10th in the SAC with 30 kills through four matches, while senior Emily Conard is tied for seventh in the conference with a team-leading 40 digs. Sophomore Hailee Wilhelm and freshman Noelle Knutsen have combined for 17 block assists and rank third and sixth, respectively in the league.
The Jaguars, who posted an 18-15 overall record a season ago, including a 6-6 mark and a fourth place finish in the Peach Belt Conference (PBC), were a preseason pick to finish third in the seven-team PBC this season.
Augusta's fourth-place finish last season was its highest mark in the PBC since 2014, as the Jags advanced to the PBC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2012. Augusta returned four seniors on the roster including first-team All-Conference selection McKenzey Beck. Beck led the NCAA with 12 triple-doubles in 2017 and led the team in kills and aces and was second in assists. Also back is senior Blair Bolton on the right side, senior libero Natalia Gouvela, and senior outside hitter Savanna Gonzales.
The Jaguars are 3-0 on the early season after sweeping Albany State, Mount Olive and Montevallo at last weekend's Jaguar Rumble.
The Series vs. Augusta
The Trojans are 6-5 versus the Lady Jags over the last 10 seasons, with Augusta defeating AU in each of their last three meetings. The fourth-seeded Lady Jags outlasted No. 5 seed Anderson, 3-2 (25-23, 27-25, 22-25, 15-13) in the 2014 NCAA Southeast Region Tournament, then swept AU in their meeting at Christenberry Fieldhouse during the 2015 campaign.
Augusta outlasted the Trojans in five sets at last year's USC Aiken Invitational, as Knight led all players with 18 kills and added a dozen digs to post a double-double, while Conlin notched 58 assists – just two shy of her career high – and added 14 digs for a double-double. Conard tallied a team-high 23 assists in the loss.
The Bobcats (2-2) are looking to build on their record-breaking 2017 season, as they went 24-8 a year ago before falling to second-seeded Wingate in the NCAA Southeast Regional. Reigning Peach Belt Coach of the Year Gretchen Krumdieck returned the PBC Setter of the Year in Kayla Brockway after setting a school record for wins and picking up GC's first NCAA Tournament victory last year.
Georgia College was a preseason selection to finish second this season in the Preseason PBC Coaches' Poll, after going 8-4 in the league last season.
GC returned standouts Brockway and fellow senior Taylor Svehla from last season, who joined Brockway on the Preseason All-PBC Team.
The Series vs. Georgia College
Friday night's matchup will be just the second meeting in school history between the two programs. The Trojans blanked Georgia College, 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-15), at the Centennial Center last season.
Conlin handed out 37 assists and came up just shy of a double-double by coming up with eight digs and chipped in a pair of aces in last year's sweep of the Bobcats. Conard recorded a team-high 11 digs, while notching two aces.
The Bulldogs won 20 of their final 22 matches last season, while claiming their second straight Conference Carolinas title and finished the campaign with a 23-8 record after falling to top-seeded Flagler in last season's NCAA Tournament. Barton posted a 13-1 mark in league play and a 14-match winning streak during the regular season.
Two-time reigning league Coach of the Year Jeff Lennox's Bulldogs were tabbed to win the Conference Carolinas' title in the Preseason Coaches' Poll, as Barton returned three all-conference picks in Angelica Acevedo, Allie Cullens and Kaytlin Elkins, who was named the Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year last season and the league's lone AVCA All-Region selection. In addition to their all-conference selections, two-time reigning conference tournament MVP Riley Bane will be back to help lead the Bulldogs.
Barton is searching for its first win of the young season after dropping four straight matches last weekend at the University of Alaska Anchorage Invitational.
The Series vs. Barton
Saturday afternoon's match will mark just the third meeting between the two programs since the 2010 campaign, when the Trojans joined the South Atlantic Conference. The squads have split the two decisions, with AU blanking the Bulldogs, 3-0, at the Abney Center in 2012 and Barton avenging the loss by edging the Trojans in five sets at the 2016 Coker/Francis Marion Tournament.
The Valkyries, who posted a 4-22 overall record and 1-14 conference mark in 2017, were tabbed to finish 11th in this year's Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll.
A trio of sophomores – libero Sydney Allen, outside hitter Kiara Cannon and middle blocker Alexis Pitts - are expected to lead Converse this season
Converse went 1-3 at last weekend's Coker/Francis Marion Invitational, while capturing a 3-1 over Winston-Salem State.
The Series vs. Converse
In their only meeting since 2009, the Trojans swept Converse, 3-0, at the 2015 Flagler Invitational.