HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 6, 2012 – After a long trip out to the Pacific Time Zone last weekend, the James Madison volleyball team returns to the East Coast to play in the Madison Bingaman Memorial Tournament in Baltimore, Md., this weekend. JMU takes on Howard, tournament-host Maryland, Baltimore County and Robert Morris in the two-day event.
The Dukes open the tournament on Friday at 2 p.m. against Howard at the Retriever Activities Center (RAC) Arena. Saturday they play UMBC at 10:30 a.m. and Robert Morris at 7 p.m. Live stats are available for all three games through JMUSports.com while UMBCRetrievers.tv is airing each of the three games for subscribers.
JMU is coming of a 0-3 road trip against some tough competition at last weekend’s Long Beach State Mizuno Invitational. Overall, Madison is 1-5 on the season.
Senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) leads the team in kills with 63 and is averaging 3.15 per set on .191 hitting. She’s added 53 digs, six blocks and two aces through 20 sets played this year. Last weekend, she recorded her 100th career ace, making her the sixth player in school history to reach 100 aces and 1,000 kills.
Another member of the team moving up the record books is senior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian). Wiechmann’s 72 assists in last weekend’s tournament moved her into sixth on the all-time list with 2,172. She trails Kari Kopnicky (1995-97) by 346 helpers for fifth place.
Sophomore Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) has stepped into a major role in the middle for Madison, averaging 2.65 kills and 0.90 blocks per set this season. Briones is second on the team in kills with 53 and first in blocks with 18. She’s added 12 digs and two service aces while playing in all 20 sets.
Freshman Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) ranks second on the team in digs with 59 and fourth in kills with 43. She trails only junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) for the team lead in digs. Daorai is fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association in digs per set with 4.00. She has collected 64 digs in 16 sets played this year.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Bison come into the weekend with a 0-4 record after losing all three matches at last weekend’s Pittsburgh Panther Invitational. They started their season on Aug. 25 at Rider, losing 3-0 to the Broncs.
Howard is led offensively by a pair of sophomore outside hitters in Meagan Lagerlef and Assata Conway. Langerlef leads the team in kills per set at 1.50 while Conway has a team-high 20 kills on .125 hitting. Coway also leads the team in blocks with six, adding 10 digs, three assists and a service ace. Setter Stephanie Shultis leads the team in assists with 54 while libero Alexis Skinner has a team-high 41 digs.
Shaun Kupferberg is in his first season as the head coach of the Bison. He was hired in July after spending the previous five seasons as the coach at Jacksonville University. He owns a 177-121 record in 11 seasons as a head coach between Howard, Jacksonville and Northwest University.
The Retrievers come into their home tournament sporting a 2-7 record after dropping a five-set battle with George Washington on Wednesday. Overall they have lost five straight, including dropping all three of their matches at last weekend’s adidas/Michigan Challenge in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Rookie outside hitter Sherelle Walker is off to a quick start in her career leading the team in kills with 94 on .208 hitting. She’s added 15 blocks, 12 digs, one ace and on assists in 31 sets played. Junior middle blocker Emily Witsaman leads the squad with 30 blocks and ranks third on the team in kills with 54. Freshman Paige Miller runs the offense at setter, averaging 8.04 assists per set while junior libero Ali Goc is averaging a team-best 3.50 digs per set.
The head coach of UMBC is Ian Blanchard. He owns a 108-107 record in eight seasons with the Retrievers.
The Colonials are winners of two of their previous three matches to improve their record to 2-5. They dropped a midweek match at Youngstown State on Tuesday, but swept the Saturday matches of last weekend’s Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational last weekend. RMU is 0-4 away from home this season, including a 0-2 mark in neutral site matches.
Senior outside hitter Lindsay Monger leads the team in both kills and digs this season with 73 and 77, respectively. She is averaging 3.17 kills per set on .135 hitting while also adding 12 aces, eight blocks and two assists. Sophomore Erica Robb is second on the squad with 55 kills and third in digs with 63. Sophomore Hannah Hoffman is the team’s primary setter, averaging 6.61 assists per set while sophomore libero Melissa Bograd is averaging 3.75 digs per set.
Dale Starr is in his third season at the helm for the Colonials. He owns a 34-40 record at RMU and a 130-121 record in 10 seasons as a head coach.
The Dukes come into this weekend’s action with a 23-5 all-time record against its three scheduled foes. Madison has the longest history against Howard, owning a 12-2 record against the Bison dating back to 1977. JMU has won the last 10 matches against Howard, including a 5-0 record on a neutral court.
The Dukes and Retrievers have squared of 10 times since 1981 with the Dukes holding a 7-3 edge in the all-time series. UMBC did win the meeting between the teams, taking a 3-1 decision over Madison in Harrisonburg in 2009.
JMU has won all four matches against Robert Morris, including a 3-0 sweep over the Colonials in the 2011 JMU Days Inn Invitational. Redshirt senior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) paced the Dukes that day with 16 kills on .536 hitting.
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