HARRISONBURG, Va., Aug. 30, 2012 – After opening its season at home against some tough competition, the James Madison volleyball team continues its challenging slate this weekend on the road as it heads to Long Beach, Calif., for the Long Beach St. Mizuno Invitational. JMU plays Long Beach St., Wisconsin and Cal St. Northridge in the three-day tournament.
This weekend’s opponents have a combined 5-3 record after one weekend of play and two of the three teams are receiving votes in the latest AVCA Division I Coaches Poll. LBSU is the top vote getter, receiving eight votes in the poll while CSU Northridge checks in with a pair of votes.
The Dukes went 1-2 during the JMU Classic last weekend. They defeated Appalachian State in their opener before dropping a pair of four-set matches to #16 Minnesota and Seton Hall.
Offensively, Madison hit .230 as a team and had four different players average over 2.50 kills per set. Redshirt senior Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) led the way, hitting .221 and averaging 4.36 kills per set while fellow senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) averaged 3.09 kills per set on .233 hitting. Sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs Ark./Siloam Springs) led the team in attack percentage, collecting 31 kills against just 10 errors on 68 attempts for a .309 attack percentage. Freshman outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) hit .239 and averaged 2.64 kills per set in her first collegiate action.
Niski garnered Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week accolades for her performance. In addition to her 29 kills, the rookie led the team with 32 digs and added a block, an assist and a service ace in 11 sets played.
Defensively, junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) averaged 3.86 digs per set and made just one receiving error in 27 chances while Briones collected a team-best nine blocks. Freshman Sarah Delaney (Herndon, Va./South Lakes) started in one match and appeared in all three and tied for second on the team with five blocks.
Senior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) averaged 9.82 assists per set while starting at setter in all three JMU matches. During the Dukes’ opening match, she became just the seventh player in school history to record 2,000 career assists. She currently has 2,100 career assists and sits just 50 helpers shy of tying Molly Ball for sixth on the all-time list.
Two other players reached career milestones last week for JMU as Erb became the 10th player in school history to surpass 1,000 career kills while Abel notched her 1,000th career dig against Minnesota, becoming the eighth player to do so. She moved into sixth on the all-time list and is just 16 digs shy of fifth place.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The 49ers come into the weekend with a 1-2 record after opening play in the Kentucky Classic in Lexington, Ky., last weekend. They opened the season with a 3-0 win over Lipscomb before dropping a pair of tight matches against North Carolina and Kentucky.
Outside hitter Janisa Johnson led the way for LBSU offensively, averaging 5.00 kills per set on .277 hitting. She added 36 digs, two blocks, two assists and an ace in 12 sets played. Middle blocker Chisom Okpala collected 11 blocks and 15 kills while libero Tyler Jackson averaged 4.08 digs per set. Tara Roenicke handled the setting duties for the 49ers and handed out 8.75 helpers per set.
LBSU is coached by Brian Gimmillaro. He is in his 28th season in Long Beach and owns a 726-178 career record. Gimmillaro has coached LBSU to three national championships and eight NCAA semifinal appearances.
The Badgers opened up their season at the South Florida Invitational in Tampa, Fla., last weekend. They went 2-1 picking up sweeps over USF and UCF while dropping a four-setter to Creighton.
Outside hitter Ellen Chapman paces the Wisconsin attack, averaging 4.40 kills per set on .254 hitting. She added 18 digs and seven blocks in 10 sets played. Libero Annemarie Hickey collected 54 digs, averaging 5.40 per set to aid the defense while middle blocker Mary Ording’s 11 block assists led the team. Courtney Thomas averaged 11.30 assists per set from the setter position to help lead the offense to a .232 attack percentage.
Head coach Pete Waite is in his 14th year at the helm for Wisconsin and his 25th overall as a head coach. He owns a 558-234 career record, including a 292-132 record with the Badgers.
The Matadors are coming off a trip to Tucson, Ariz., where they played in the Wildcat Invitational. They dropped their season opener to Utah Valley, 3-1, but picked up wins over Arizona and Evansville. This weekend will be the end of a five-game road trip for CSUN before they head home to open things up against Idaho.
Outside hitter Natalie Allen was named the MVP of the Wildcat Invitational after hitting .365 and averaging 3.08 kills per set. She added 36 digs, seven assists and four blocks in 12 sets played. Joining her on the all-tournament team was setter Sydney Gerdryn and middle blocker Casey Hinger. Gerdryn averaged 10.67 assists per set and added 38 digs and 13 blocks while Hinger had a team-best 14 blocks and averaged 2.33 kills per set.
Jeff Stork is in his 11th season as the head coach of the Matadors. He owns a 125-169 record with the team and was named the 2011 Big West Coach of the Year. In his 12 total seasons as a head coach, Stork is 147-175.
The Dukes have only met one of this weekend’s opponents prior to this weekend’s tournament. They are 0-1 with a 3-0 loss to Long Beach St. on Nov. 27, 1999 in the third match of the NCAA Regionals. JMU has never faced Wisconsin or Cal St. Northridge.
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