HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 20, 2012 – Having played in four tournaments and 13 matches overall, the James Madison volleyball team gets Colonial Athletic Association play started this weekend by hosting Georgia State at Sinclair Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
JMU carries a 7-6 non-conference record into this weekend’s action after going 3-1 a week ago. The Dukes picked up a win at home over Radford during the week before traveling to Tampa, Fla. for the USF Volleyball Invitational. They earned wins over Bethune-Cookman and FIU, but dropped a four-set decision to USF.
Junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) was named the CAA volleyball Defensive Player of the Week for her performance last week. She collected 64 digs in just 11 sets played, averaging 5.82 digs per set. Daorai also tied her career-high for digs in a match with 31 in the win over FIU and set a new career-high for aces in a season with her 15th. On the year, the third-year Duke is averaging 4.50 digs per set and 0.39 service aces per set.
Daorai was named to the USF Volleyball Invitational All-Tournament team along with redshirt senior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity). Abel set a new career-high for kills in a match with 24 in the win over FIU.
In two seasons under head coach Lauren Steinbrecher, Madison has amassed an 18-10 record in conference play and has advanced to the semifinals of the CAA Championship in both seasons. The Dukes are 10-4 at home in CAA play with Steinbrecher at the helm and have won the conference home opener in both seasons.
JMU ranks in the top half of the conference in digs, attack percentage and opponent attack percentage, including leading the CAA in digs with 17.09 per set. The team is third in opponent attack percentage (.177) and fourth in attack percentage (.206).
Amongst the individual leaders, Daorai ranks third in the league in aces and fourth in digs while Abel is second in the league in kills (3.59/set) and second in points (3.92/set). Senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) ranks sixth in the CAA in kills (3.22/set), fifth in points (3.78/set) and seventh in aces (0.31/set). Senior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) is second in assists at 10.16/set and sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) is ninth in points (3.44/set) and eighth in hitting percentage (.276).
The Panthers come into the week having lost three straight and four of five overall. This season they are off to a 2-10 start overall and are 0-3 in true road games. They open up CAA play on Friday at George Mason before traveling down to Harrisonburg on Saturday.
Outside hitter Jamiee Freeman is the team’s top producer offensively, averaging 2.30 kills per set. She’s added 120 digs, nine blocks six aces and an assist in 40 sets played. Surrounding Freeman is a very young roster that includes eight freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors. Freshman Sydney Hunsley is second on the team in kills with 2.00 per set while rookie Eliza Zachary leads the team in blocks with 45. Freshmen setters Natalia Nieto and Andrea’ DeLeon are averaging 4.78 and 3.56 assists per set, respectively. Junior libero Emily Averbeck is tops on the team in digs with 217, averaging 5.29 per set.
Tami Audia is in her third season with Georgia State and her third season overall as a head coach. She is 30-42 in her time at the helm with the Panthers.
JMU and GSU have played each other 13 times dating back to 1991. JMU leads the all-time series 8-5, but is tied 2-2 in the two seasons under Steinbrecher. Last season, Madison dropped a 3-1 decision in Atlanta, but rebounded to beat Georgia State 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the CAA Championship.
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