HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 16, 2011 – Boasting a 19-10 overall record and an 8-6 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play, the fifth-seeded James Madison volleyball team heads to Newark, Del., for the 2011 CAA Volleyball Championships this weekend. The Dukes open the Championships against fourth-seeded Georgia State at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
The three-day, six-team tournament will be hosted by the University of Delaware for the second consecutive year at Barbara Viera Court in the Carpenter Sports Building. The Blue Hens earned the tournament’s top seed due to holding the tiebreaker over second-seeded Northeastern. Towson earned the No. 3 seed while VCU rounds out the six-team field with the No. 6 seed.
A win in Friday’s quarterfinals match would give the Dukes back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since winning 22 and 26 in 2000 and 1999, respectively. Those were also that last two seasons that saw JMU win the conference championship. The team has not qualified for back-to-back CAA Championships since the 2006-07 seasons.
Several players are approaching career milestones as the enter the weekend’s action. Senior outside hitter Holly Wall (Kaukauna, Wisc./Kaukauna) needs 29 more digs to become just the seventh player in school history to record 1,000 in her career. With her 29 digs last weekend, Wall moved into ninth on the school’s all-time dig list. Wall also needs to appear in seven sets to move into 10th in program history and is eight aces shy of 100 for her career.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) is eight digs behind Wall in her career. She needs 37 to reach 1,000 for her career. Junior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) is closing in on several milestones. She needs 49 kills to reach 1,000 in her career and just last weekend moved into 10th on the school’s all-time attack attempts list with 2,593. She also needs just one ace for 100 in her career and is 11 digs shy of reaching the 800 mark. Junior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) can become the seventh player in school history to reach 2,000 career assists with 46 this weekend.
Sophomore libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) picked up 32 digs last weekend to become just the eighth player for JMU to reach 400 in a single season.
Last weekend, the Dukes dropped a pair of home matches, losing to Delaware 3-2 in a back-and-forth thriller before closing its season with a 3-1 loss to Towson. Erb and sophomore middle blocker Kelly Maguire (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) tied for the team lead with 26 kills apiece. Maguire had a career-high 18 kills in the match against Delaware while Erb led the team with 14 kills against Towson. Daorai led the team with 32 digs while Maguire had a team-best seven blocks. Wiechmann returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two matches to collect 59 assists in nine sets played.
SCOUTING GEORGIA STATE
The Panthers have won four of six matches to improve to 14-17 on the season. Last weekend the split a pair of decisions to Northeastern and Hofstra, losing 3-2 to the Huskies before bouncing back with a 3-1 win over the Pride. The Panthers are 4-4 on a neutral floor this season. This is Georgia State’s second-ever appearance in the CAA Championships. It is 0-1 after losing to VCU in 2005.
Seniors Muki Kangwa and Vineece Verdun are two of the top offensive players in the conference. Kangwa leads the team with 417 kills, adding 325 digs, 40 blocks, 34 aces and 12 assists. Verdun leads the team with 83 blocks while contributing 327 kills on .344 hitting. Emily Averbeck has a team-best 429 digs and 19 service aces and Kaylee McGrew paces the offense with 929 assists.
Tami Audia is in her second season as the head coach at Georgia State. She is 28-31 in two seasons, including a 16-12 mark in the CAA.
JMU leads the all-time series with Georgia State 7-5, but lost in the teams’ only meeting this season. JMU dropped a 3-1 decision to the Panthers on Oct. 30 at the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta, Ga. The Dukes have won four of the previous six meetings, but have lost two straight against GSU. The team’s have never faced each other in the CAA Championships.
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