RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 10, 2012 – James Madison volleyball sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday. This is the first time in her career that Briones has earned the conference’s weekly honor.
Briones helped lead JMU to a 3-0 record at last weekend’s Madison Bingaman Memorial Tournament in Baltimore, Md. The second-year Duke hit .379 in 11 sets played, collecting 33 kills against just eight errors. She added 15 blocks to average 1.36 per set and contributed eight digs and three aces in the three matches. Briones recorded at least nine kills in all three matches, including tying her career-high with 13 against Howard. She had nine kills in the win over UMBC and 11 on .500 hitting against Robert Morris.
Briones dominated the net, blocking at least three attempts in all three matches. She recorded six rejections, a season-high, against both UMBC and RMU.
This season, the Siloam Springs, Ark., native has doubled her offensive production from a year ago for JMU averaging 2.77 kills per set on .255 hitting. She leads the team in blocks with 1.06 per set and has added 20 digs and five aces in 31 sets played.
Joining Briones as top contributors during the weekend for JMU were seniors Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) and Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian). Both players were named to the Madison Bingaman All-Tournament team. Erb, an outside hitter, hit .278 with 34 kills to go with 26 digs, nine blocks and five aces. Wiechman, a setter, paced the team to a .259 attack percentage with 120 assists. She also added 24 digs, seven kills, two aces and four blocks for Madison.
The team faces a quick turnaround as it prepares to host Radford at Sinclair Gymnasium on Tuesday. The match is slated for a 6 p.m. start.
The Dukes come into the game with a three-match win streak and have improved to 4-5 on the season. After a tough stretch of games to open the season, JMU has righted the ship with just four non-conference games to go before opening CAA play on Sept. 22 against Georgia State.
Four different players have recorded over 200 attack attempts and are averaging between 2.42 and 3.43 kills per set. Joining Erb and Briones as the team’s top offense options are redshirt senior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) and freshman outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East). Abel leads the team in kills per set at 3.43 on .211 hitting while Niski is averaging 2.42 kills per set and is second on the team in digs with 86.
The Highlanders come into the week having won two of their last three matches to improve to 6-5 on the season. They were in Morgantown, W.Va., over the weekend for the WVU Golden Horseshoe Challenge where they picked up wins over Wright State and Saint Peter’s while dropping a four-set decision to West Virginia.
Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Wiechecki is averaging 3.05 kills per set to pace the offense. Wiechecki also leads the team in digs with 126, adding 14 blocks, 14 aces and seven assists. Sophomore middle blocker Emma Deininger is hitting .321 with 89 kills and leads the team in blocks with 35. Sophomores Jena Braden and Christine Beckham share the setting duties for RU. Braden is averaging 5.78 assists per set while Beckham is averaging 4.05 per set.
Marci Jenkins, the 2011 Big South Coach of the Year, is in her fifth season as the head coach at Radford and her seventh season overall. She owns a 55-81 record at Radford and an 85-107 mark overall.
JMU and RU have played 36 times dating back to 1977. Madison leads the all-time series 33-3, including winning 14 straight and 16 of the last 17. All-time, the Dukes are 15-1 in games played in Harrisonburg.
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