HARRISONBURG, Va., Oct. 18, 2012 – Having wrapped up non-conference play on Tuesday, the James Madison volleyball team starts the stretch run of Colonial Athletic Association play on Friday as it travels to Atlanta, Ga. to take on Georgia State.
JMU has dropped two straight matches, losing in five sets to both Towson and Virginia. The Dukes are 10-11 on the season and 3-3 in CAA play. Four of their remaining six games will come on the road, including trips to Georgia State, William and Mary, UNCW and George Mason before closing the season at home against Northeastern and Hofstra.
JMU and GSU have met once already this season with Madison sweeping the Panthers, 3-0, in Sinclair Gymnasium on Sept. 22. Freshman outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) had a career-high 14 kills on .286 hitting. She finished with a double-double by adding 12 digs and was one of four players with double-digit digs in the match. Junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) led the team with 23 digs. JMU recorded 72 digs in the three-set match, averaging 24 per set.
In the four games since moving to middle blocker, freshman MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove) is averaging 1.26 kills, 1.06 blocks and 2.31 digs per set. She has hit .172 for the Dukes and has added five assists and four service aces. In Tuesday’s match against Virginia, the rookie was just two blocks shy of a triple-double. She had a career-high eight blocks, including two solo rejections.
In conference play, JMU is outhitting its opponents .237 to .193. Sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) is hitting .355 against CAA foes, including 67 kills against just 18 errors in 138 attempts. She is second on the team with 3.05 kills per set, trailing only senior outside hitter Danielle Erb’s (Tampa, Fla./Plant) 3.36 kills per set.
The Panthers went 1-1 in a pair of CAA matches last week, earning a 3-2 win over UNCW and falling to William & Mary in four sets. Overall, they have lost eight of their last nine. This season, GSU is 3-15 overall and 2-4 at home.
Outside hitter Jamiee Freeman is the team’s top producer offensively, averaging 2.33 kills per set. She’s added 217 digs, 19 blocks 11 aces and five assists in 61 sets played. Surrounding Freeman is a very young roster that includes eight freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors. Freshman Dede Bohannon is second on the team in kills with 2.32 per set while rookie Eliza Zachary leads the team in blocks with 54. Freshmen setters Natalia Nieto and Andrea’ DeLeon are averaging 4.76 and 4.03 assists per set, respectively. Junior libero Emily Averbeck is tops on the team in digs with 331, averaging 5.34 per set.
Tami Audia is in her third season with Georgia State and her third season overall as a head coach. She is 31-47 in her time at the helm of the Panthers.
JMU and GSU have played each other 14 times dating back to 1991. JMU leads the all-time series 9-5, but is 3-2 in the two seasons under Steinbrecher. Last season, Madison dropped a 3-1 decision in Atlanta, but has won the last two meetings, including a 3-0 sweep in last year’s CAA Championship quarterfinals.
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