HARRISONBURG, Va., Oct. 11, 2012 – Coming off a tough road trip to the northern end of the Colonial Athletic Association, the James Madison volleyball team returns to Sinclair Gymnasium this weekend for a pair of home matches. JMU hosts Delaware at 7 p.m. on Friday night before welcoming Towson for a 1 p.m. match on Sunday.
The Dukes enter the weekend with a 9-9 overall record and a 2-2 mark in the CAA after dropping a pair of matches at Hofstra and Northeastern last week. The Pride held off a JMU comeback bid to earn a 3-1 win on Friday while the Huskies swept JMU, 3-0, on Solomon Court in three tightly-contested sets.
In the meeting with Hofstra, senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) recorded 11 digs to reach 1,000 for her career. She is the fourth player in school history to reach the 1,000 plateau in both kills and digs, and currently ranks sixth in school history in kills and seventh in digs.
Junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) is four digs shy of becoming the third JMU player this season and the 10th overall to reach the 1,000 dig milestone. In addition to Erb and Daorai, redshirt senior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) also recorded her 1,000th dig this season.
The Dukes come into the weekend with a 4-2 record at Sinclair Gymnasium, including a 2-0 mark against conference opponents. They have won three straight at home and sport a 27-8 mark in Harrisonburg under head coach Lauren Steinbrecher.
Madison featured a young lineup last weekend as four freshmen started at least one match. In addition to regular starters in outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) and middle blocker Sarah Delaney (Herndon, Va./South Lakes), outside hitter MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove) and setter Sarah Patterson (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley) also drew starts for JMU. Kleespies started against Northeastern, making her fifth start of the season while Patterson made her collegiate debut as the setter against Hofstra. She started both matches during the weekend, joining senior setter Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) in the rotation.
JMU volleyball is also hosting Alumni Weekend during its games against Delaware and Towson as 15 former Dukes are venturing back to campus. Returning players include Holly Wall (2008-11), Lindsay Callahan (2007-10), Kaitlin McFaddin (2006-08), Lauren Miiles (2005-08), Jena Pierson (2004-07), Allyson Halls (2004-07), Emilee Hussack (2002-05), Blake (Tyson) Walter (2002-04), Jessica (Evers) Marcantonio (1999-02), Danielle (Heinbaugh) LeJeune (1998-01), Karla (Gessler) Holmes (1997-00), Mandy Carter (1995-98), Beth Tyson (1994-97), Ellen Murphy (1981-84) and Lynn Rogers (1984-84).
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Blue Hens are the two-time defending conference champions and come into the weekend with an 8-11 overall record and a 3-1 mark in conference play. Last weekend, they earned wins in CAA road matches at UNCW and William & Mary to run their winning streak to five matches. UD’s last loss overall, and only set back in league play, was a 3-0 decision at Towson on Sept. 21.
The Blue Hens feature four players averaging between 2.02 and 2.88 kills per set led by outside hitter Alissa Alker at 2.88. Outside hitter Katie Hank is second at 2.36 kills per set while outside hitter Katie Hillman (2.31 kills per set) and middle blocker Chelsea Lawrence (2.02) are both also over two kills per set. Alker is second on the team with 205 digs, trailing only freshman libero Ariel Shonk with 356. Alker leads the team in service aces with 14 while Hank is second with 10.
Lawrence is first on the team in blocks with 63, followed by middle blocker Chandler Bryant with 40. Rookie Mackenzie Olsen has paced the team to a .181 attack percentage, handing out 9.71 assists per set from the setter position.
Head coach Bonnie Kenny is in her 11th season at the helm for the Blue Hens. She earned her 200th win at Delaware in the victory over UNCW and owns a 201-134 record with the team. In 29 season overall as a head coach, Kenny is 541-386.
The Tigers have won 10 straight matches to come into the weekend with a 17-3 record and a 4-0 mark in CAA play. Prior to visiting Harrisonburg on Sunday, TU plays at George Mason on Friday night. Towson is 5-2 in true road games this season and 13-3 in games away from home.
Reigning CAA Player of the Year Katy Buck leads the team in kills with 225, averaging 3.31 per set. The junior also has 152 digs, 30 blocks, nine assists and eight aces in 68 sets played this season. She is hitting .243 on the season, committing 82 errors in 588 attempts. Outside hitter Dayane Van Ass is second on the team in kills with 180 while middle blocker Alysha McCreary is third with 165 kills. McCreary leads the team in blocks with 70.
Aubrey Kirven leads the CAA in assists per set at 12.68 while adding 147 digs and 17 service aces. Libero Paige Sekerak leads the team in digs with 262.
Head coach Bruce Atkinson is in his third season with the Tigers. He owns a 56-27 record with the team and a 176-93 record in nine seasons as a head coach.
JMU has played a combined 74 matches against Delaware and Towson and owns a 36-38 mark against the teams. Delaware leads the all-time series 22-17, including winning four straight and nine of the last 10. Madison is 11-5 in matches played in Harrisonburg, but has dropped three of the last four.
The Dukes lead the all-time series with Towson 19-16. Last season, JMU and TU split a pair of matches with each team winning on the road. Madison has won three of the last four and seven of the last nine against Towson and is 11-7 at home in the series.
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