After a busy and eventful first month of the season, the Stetson volleyball team will begin Atlantic Sun Conference action this weekend with two matches in the state of Georgia. The Hatters (3-13 overall, 0-0 A-Sun) will visit Mercer (5-6, 1-0 A-Sun) at 7 p.m. Friday and then head north to face Kennesaw State (11-4, 1-0 A-Sun) at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Stetson has played 16 matches in the span of four weeks, including four weekend tournaments and two midweek contests. The Hatters have faced their share of quality opponents, including a Rutgers team whose record is currently 13-1 and Central Arkansas who currently stands at 12-1.
“I've been happy with our level of play, we've played at a pretty high level against some pretty good teams,” Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. “Just about every match except for maybe one we have come out and competed hard and put up a pretty good fight. We have won a few close ones, lost a few more close ones, but I hope that experience will help us in conference play. That's why we played a tougher non-conference schedule to get to this point - to be more seasoned, more polished, and hopefully it pays off for us.”
Throughout the season the Hatters have frequently put themselves in a position to win sets and matches but have struggled to close them out late. Stetson is 1-4 in five set matches this season, and in sets decided by the minimum of two points, the Hatters are 5-9.
“I expect us to compete with everyone in the A-Sun, and we are going to have to find a way to win those close games and close matches to be successful,” Loesch said. “I believe we can do it, we've done it once in a five set match, and even the matches that only went three or four sets the game scores have been very close. That is going to be our challenge - to execute down the stretch and execute under pressure.”
The conference schedule features a double-round robin format, where the Hatters will play everyone twice – once at home and once on the road. At the conclusion of the regular season, the top six eligible teams will compete for the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Northern Kentucky is not eligible for postseason play while making its four-year transition from Division II to Division I.
“There are not going to be any easy conference matches,” Loesch said. “From top to bottom everybody is going to compete hard and no one is going to give us anything. I think by playing the tough schedule early the girls are used to that. Hopefully our experience will pay off.”
Fans can also get in-game twitter updates of Stetson volleyball matches all season long by following @StetsonVB from your twitter account. Postgame recaps and statistics will be available on the Stetson Athletics website at GoHatters.com.
Stetson vs. the
Record vs. Mercer: 15-17
Record vs. Kennesaw State: 2-6
The Hatters are 8-8 in first sets this year, but just 6-26 combined in sets two and three.
Going the Distance
The Hatters have played five matches that have gone to five sets this year. No one else in the conference has played more than three five-set matches.
NCAA Statistical Rankings
In the Sept. 17 NCAA statistical rankings, Monique Russell ranked sixth in the nation with 286 total digs this season.
A-Sun Statistical Rankings
The Hatters 1.69 team blocks per set ranks third in the A-Sun. Ellen Hawks ranks second in the A-Sun in total blocks (53) and fourth in blocks/set (0.85). Monique Russell leads the A-Sun with 286 digs, and ranks fourth in digs per set (4.61).
All-Time Digs Record
Monique Russell now ranks second in school history with 1225 career digs. She needs 63 more digs to set the school record, which is held by Melissa Roy (1287 digs, 1994-97)
25 Kills For Melville
Last Friday, Kaley Melville recorded 25 kills in a match vs. The Citadel, marking the fourth-highest kill total by a Hatter in the rally-scoring era (since 2000). The 25 kills was also the most by a Hatter since Rebecca Orzechowicz had 26 kills vs. USF in 2006. Melville only committed one error in the match on 62 attempts, finishing with a .387 attack percentage.
Kelli Carneal needs 34 assists to become the seventh player in school history to record 2000 assists. Monique Russell will play in her 100th career match on Saturday.
Up Next – Home Stand
Stetson will play three straight and five of its next six matches at home. The Hatters host Jacksonville at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.