HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 10, 2011 – The James Madison clinched a berth in the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Championships last weekend with a 3-2 win over in-state rival George Mason. This weekend they will look to sure up their seed as they close out the regular season by hosting Delaware and Towson at Sinclair Gymnasium/Godwin Hall. Friday’s match against the Blue Hens is set for a 7 p.m. start while Saturday’s season finale against Towson is set for a 7:30 p.m. start.
JMU enters the weekend with an 8-4 conference record which is tied for third in the CAA with Towson. Both teams trail Northeastern and Delaware by one game with each team having two games remaining. The number one overall seed will host next weekend’s tournament while the top two seeds will receive first-round byes.
The Dukes need to sweep this weekend’s action and receive some help from other teams in order to host the tournament. Northeastern travels to UNCW and Georgia State and needs to lose both games, while Delaware needs to lose to both JMU and George Mason.
Saturday’s match will also be Senior Night for three Dukes playing in their final regular season home game of the season. Middle blocker Kelly Turner (Ontario, N.Y./Wayne Central), outside hitter Holly Wall (Kaukauna, Wisc./Kaukauna) and defensive specialist Morgan Maddox (Leesburg, Va./Loudoun Valley) will all be honored prior to Saturday’s match.
Last week, Madison went 2-0 against a pair of in-state foes. JMU won a midweek game at home against Norfolk State, 3-0, before traveling to George Mason to pick up a 3-2 win. Redshirt freshman setter Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) was named CAA Rookie of the Week after collecting 84 assists, 21 digs, 13 kills and two service aces in eights sets played. She became the first JMU player since Emilee Hussack (2002-05) in 2005 to collect a triple-double after posting 50 assists, 18 digs and 11 kills in the win against the Patriots. She was selected as a CVU.com National Top Performer of the Week for her efforts.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) had 21 kills and 20 digs in the win at George Mason. It was the first 20/20 performance by a Duke since junior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) had 25 kills and 22 digs in a win over Georgia State on Oct. 9, 2010.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Blue Hens won the CAA Championship in 2010, but graduated four All-CAA performers from last year’s squad. Three First Team All-CAA performers, including Defensive Specialist of the Year Greta Gibboney and Setter of the Year Jess Chason, are gone, but the young team has won eight of its last nine games to run its record to 16-12 overall and 9-3 in the CAA.
Sophomore Katie Hank averages 3.33 kills per set on .234 hitting to lead the team while Third Team All-CAA selection Alissa Alker is second with 3.04 kills per set on .226 hitting. Sophomore Cara Rosehill averages 4.26 digs per set while adding 38 assists and 12 service aces from the libero position. Senior Renee Tomko has replaced Chason at setter and is averaging 10.62 assists per set, adding 2.74 digs per set and 29 service aces. Sophomore Karina Evans is the team’s top blocker with 102 while junior Chelsea Lawrence has added 96 blocks, including 15 solos.
Head coach Bonnie Kenny is in her 10th season at the helm for Delaware. She has compiled a 181-112 record for the Blue Hens and a 521-364 mark in 28 total seasons as a head coach.
The Tigers won nine of their first 10 matches to get off to a hot start and currently sit at 21-8 overall and 8-4 in the CAA. They are just 5-4 on the road this season, including a 3-2 record in CAA road games.
Sophomore Katy Buck is averaging 4.17 kills and 2.45 digs per set to pace Towson. She has added 29 assists, 23 blocks and 14 service aces while playing in all 100 sets this season. Senior Susan Gansor adds 2.11 kills per set on .311 hitting and a team-high 118 blocks while sophomore Dayane Van Ass is contributing 2.59 kills per set and 39 blocks. Junior setter Aubrey Kiven is averaging 11.68 assists per set while freshman libero Paige Sekerak leads in digs with 4.44 per set.
Bruce Atkinson is in his second season at Towson and has compiled a 37-23 record with the Tigers. In five total seasons as a head coach, he has put together a 117-34 record for a .775 win percentage.
JMU has played 71 games all-time against this weekend’s foes and compiled a 36-35 mark. The Dukes lead the all-time series against Towson, 19-15, including winning seven of the last eight meetings. Earlier this season, JMU went on the road and earned a 3-1 win at Towson.
Delaware has won 11 of the last 13 meetings with JMU to take a 20-17 lead in the series. The Hens downed JMU earlier this season 3-1 in Newark, Delaware, but have not won in Harrisonburg since 2008.
# # #