HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 22, 2012 – Freshman outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) finished with a career-high 14 kills on .286 hitting to lead the James Madison volleyball team to a 3-0 win over Georgia State at Sinclair Gymnasium/Godwin Hall on Saturday night.
JMU won by set scores of 25-20, 25-17, 25-21 to open up Colonial Athletic Association play at 1-0. The Dukes improved their overall record to 8-6 while the Panthers dropped to 2-12 overall and 0-2 in league play.
“It is a good win for us tonight,” volleyball head coach Lauren Steinbrecher said. “Anytime you win in the CAA, you are happy about it, especially winning in three. I thought Meghan Niski had an unbelievable night. She’s a fantastic player and she was unstoppable on the outside.”
Niski’s 14 kills led all players for the night. She committed just four errors in 35 attacks and finished with a double-double with 12 digs. Redshirt senior outside Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) also finished with a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs while sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) added eight kills and a match-high six blocks. Senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) contributed seven kills, 16 digs and four blocks.
Junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) led all players with 23 digs while also adding two aces, two assists and a kill. Senior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) had 37 assists, six digs, two blocks and a kill.
Georgia State was paced offensively by outside hitter Dede Bohannon. She had eight kills on .059 hitting, adding two solo blocks and a dig. Right side hitter Sydney Hunsley added six kills on .364 hitting while middle blocker Eliza Zachary had three kills and a team-best five blocks. Outside hitter Jamiee Freeman had two kills, but committed six errors. She added 12 digs. Emily Averbeck had a team-high 22 digs and setters Andrea DeLeon and Natalia Nieto combined for 23 assists and 11 digs.
As a team, the Dukes finished with a .164 hitting percentage while limiting their opponents to just a .032 percentage. Madison won the blocking battle 8-7 and had three service aces to zero for GSU.
JMU led wire-to-wire in set one, running out to a 12-4 lead and forcing the Panthers to use their first timeout. GSU responded to the timeout, winning four of the next five points to cut the lead to 13-8, but never got closer than four points the remainder of the set as Niski finished with five kills in nine attacks to power Madison to the 25-20 win.
After trading the first six points of set two, the Dukes used a four-point run to grab a 7-3 lead early on. The Madison lead continued to hover around four points until an Abel kill and Briones service error stretched the lead to 17-12 and forced GSU to take its first timeout. The Panthers won the first point out of the timeout, but ceded an 8-3 run after that to drop the set 25-17. Abel powered the JMU attack in the set, collecting five kills on .281 hitting while Daorai added eight digs.
The Dukes won the first two points of set three, but lost eight of the next 10 points to fall behind 8-4. They responded with a 6-2 run to even the score at 10-10. A JMU service error gave GSU the lead back, but the Panthers immediately gave up an 8-2 run to lose the lead for good. They got as close as one at 21-20, but kills by Abel and Erb surrounded by a pair of GSU attack errors put the set away for the Dukes. Daorai and Erb paced the JMU defense with 11 digs each in the set.
Madison returns to play on Tuesday, Sept. 25 as it travels to Lynchburg, Va., to take on Liberty in a non-conference tilt.
NOTES: Saturday’s win was number 50 for JMU head coach Lauren Steinbrecher. Danielle Erb’s seven kills moved her into eighth on the school’s all-time kills list with 1,121. She passed Larissa Winkler (1998-00, 02) for eighth.
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