September 15, 2011

The Citadel Begins N.C. State Tournament Friday Afternoon

Charleston, S.C. – The Citadel Volleyball continues its tour of North Carolina this weekend when it meets Towson University as part of the N.C. State Tournament at Reynolds Coliseum on Friday. The inaugural meeting between the two teams is set to begin at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will follow that with a pair of Saturday matches against N.C. State and Liberty, slated to start at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively.

The Bulldogs are fresh off a 25-13, 25-15, 27-25 sweep of North Carolina A&T. The victory moved the Bulldogs to 5-2 overall under first-year head coach Amir Khaledi, maintaining the best start in program history.

The in-season tournament marks the third of the season for the Cadets. The Citadel has a perfect 2-0 record at neutral sites this season, including victories over Claflin and Alabama State that came at the South Carolina State Tournament. 

The N.C. State Tournament marks just the fifth time in program history that The Citadel has taken on a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Dogs are 0-4 all-time against teams from the ACC, including a pair of losses to N.C. State in 2005 (15-30, 9-30, 24-30) and 2009 (25-27, 21-25, 21-25).

LAST TIME OUT: For the third time in the 2011 season The Citadel Volleyball team earned a victory by virtue of a sweep, this defeating North Carolina A&T by scores of 25-13, 25-15, 27-25. Behind junior outside hitter Kaona Mercer, who finished with match-high performances in kills (13) and digs (eight), the Bulldogs improved to 5-2 on the season.

Mercer was joined in kills by teammates Amanda Rudnik, who posted five kills to go along with four digs, and Ise d'Angelo who notched four kills and four digs. The tandem of Alexa Dahlstrom and Erin Bucherl combined for 30 assists, while freshmen Haley Corson proved to be a solid defensive presence with six digs. 

The Citadel limited N.C. A&T (0-11) to 18 team kills, led by five each from Andrea Evans and Jenea Daniels. The Aggies struggled to find offensive rhythm throughout the match, as they were limited to a (-0.67) attack percentage in 89 total attempts.

PREVIEWING THE OPPOSITION

Towson University (10-3 Overall): The Towson University volleyball team split its two matches on Sept. 10 at the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders Classic. The Tigers (10-3) fell to North Texas by a 3-1 score before defeating Texas Pan-American by a 3-0 margin.

Sophomore Katy Buck was named to the all-tournament team after recording 43 kills and 34 digs while posting "double-doubles" in two of the three matches.

In the match against North Texas, Melanie Boykins had four kills in the first set to lead the Mean Green to a 25-19 win. The second set was a tightly contested battle as there were 18 ties and seven lead changes. Buck and sophomore Dayane Van Ass had four kills each in the set to lead Towson to a 25-23 win. The third set needed extra points to decide it as North Texas claimed the 28-26 win and took a 2-1 lead in the match. The Mean Green sealed the victory with a 25-23 win in the fourth set.

Against Texas Pan-American, the Tigers hit .256 in the first set en route to a 25-19 victory. In the second set, the Tigers held the Broncs to a -.125 hitting percentage and earned a 25-13 win. The two teams battled through eight ties in the third set before Towson claimed the 25-22 win, securing the match victory.

Machos led the Tigers with 12 kills hitting .304 in the match. Buck added 11 kills and 9 digs while Sekerak contributed 19 digs. Kirven finished with 36 assists and 8 digs while Niehoff and junior Evan Schulz had 11 digs each.

NC State (8-1 Overall):  NC State's volleyball team cruised to its ninth consecutive victory on Saturday, Sept. 10 , with a 3-0 sweep of host UNC Wilmington in the final match of the Hilton Garden Inn Mayfaire Tournament.

Freshman Nicole Glass of Colorado Springs, Colo., was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, while teammates Margaret Salata and Brie Merriwether were both named to the all-tournament team.

In the tournament's three matches, Glass had 39 kills, five service aces, 21 digs and eight total blocks. Meanwhile, Salata had 37 kills, an attack average over .500 percent, three service aces, eight digs and four total blocks. Merriwether completed a solid tournament with 22 kills and five total blocks.

The Wolfpack (9-1) has matched its longest winning streak since the 1987 squad won the ACC championship, thanks in part to a 12-match winning streak during the heart of the season. The Wolfpack also had nine-game winning streaks in 1996, 1981 and 1980, as well as a 10-game winning streak in 1979 and an 11-game winning streak in 1980.

Liberty University (4-6 Overall): Liberty recorded its third 3-0 sweep in two days, downing CSU Bakersfield 26-24, 25-8, 25-16 on Saturday, Sept. 10 to claim the championship at the 2011 Liberty Invitational. The Lady Flames have gone undefeated at their home invitational for the first time since a 3-0 showing in 1997.

Both Liberty (4-6) and CSUB (3-7) entered the match unbeaten in their first two matches on the weekend, setting up a showdown for the championship.

Lady Flames sophomore outside hitter Lillie Happel was honored as the tournament MVP, leading the event with eight aces while finishing second with a 4.11 kills per set average. Liberty teammate Jade Craycraft was also named to the all-tournament team.

Libero Kelly Haseman passed Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame member Theresa Bream (1987-90) into second place all-time at Liberty for digs. Haseman, with seven digs Saturday, has now posted 1,643 digs on her career.

For the match, Liberty hit .253 compared with .020 for the Roadrunners. The Lady Flames posted nine team blocks to CSUB's seven and held a 40-30 edge in digs.

Gebben led the Lady Flames with nine kills, hitting .350 for the match while adding six digs and a season-high-tying three blocks. Haraf paced both teams with a season-best 13 digs. Loren Thomas totaled four blocks (one solo, three assists). Craycraft added a match-high 22 assists, seven digs and three blocks. Happel registered two aces and Kendle Rollins earned three block assists.

For more information on Bulldog Volleyball, go to the official website of The Citadel Athletics, www.CitadelSports.com.