SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate volleyball team (5-11, 1-3 A-Sun) picked up its first Atlantic Sun win of season, grounding the North Florida Ospreys (8-11, 2-3 A-Sun) 3-0 by scores of 25-20, 25-23 and 25-22 in the Spartans' conference home-opener tonight at the Hodge Center.
The Spartans were led offensively once again by senior Morgan Thomas tallying 15 kills, including the match point kill. Despite Upstate having a 24-18 lead in the third set, North Florida fought back to a 24-22 deficit before Thomas put the match away off of an Emily Sanders assist.
"UNF is a highly competitive team and we knew they would be tough," said Upstate head coach Jennifer Calloway. "Tonight the players on our team played to their capabilities and just played to enjoy the game they love. We earned that win, finishing each point. I'm very proud of our team."
Sanders recorded her sixth double-double of the season, collecting 38 assists and a team-high 20 digs. The junior also posted four kills. Sophomore Morgan Page recorded 16 digs, followed by classmate Amanda Carroll with 11.
Thomas recorded three blocks on the night, including one assisted rejection to rank fifth all-time in career-block assists at Upstate. The senior ties Maggie Smith's (1985-86) fifth ranking record of 222 career-assisted blocks. Thomas sits just outside of the school record books with 287 total career denials. She is 15 blocks away from tying Trina Beaty's (1990-91) 10th-best mark of 302.
UNF was led by Paige Pridgeon's double-double of 12 kills and 10 digs and Casey Giovanazzi's 32 assists. Nicole Baran posted a team-high for the Ospreys with 18 digs, followed by 16 from Anna Budinska.
Other noteworthy Spartans on the night included, junior Mindy Quimby, who was just shy of a double-double, with eight kills and nine digs, while junior Emily Bingham also added eight kills. Senior Kelsie Queen and freshman Kayla McAvoy each registered six kills.
The Spartans recorded a season-high .315 hitting percentage, compared to the Ospreys' .184. North Florida leads the Spartans in the overall series 26-5 and holds a 10-4 advantage when playing at the Hodge. In the teams' last meeting Oct. 15, 2010, Upstate dropped a 3-1 decision at UNF.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Spartans' Spike-Out Cancer event is set for Upstate's match against Jacksonville tomorrow. Upstate has partnered with the Gibbs Cancer Center at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center as the recipient of all of the athletic department's cancer awareness fundraising efforts. The Spartans encourage fans to paint the Hodge Center pink by dressing in pink to show support for the breast cancer awareness initiatives.
Jacksonville leads the all-time series against Upstate 6-0, including a 3-0 mark in Spartanburg. Last time out, the Spartans fell to the Dolphins 3-1 Oct. 16, 2010 at JU.
Prior to Upstate's 3 p.m. match against the Dolphins, there will be a Spike-Out Cancer tailgate in the Hodge Center parking lot beginning at 1 p.m. Tailgate festivities will include a bake sale hosted by Zeta Tau Alpha and a cornhole tournament. ZTA sisters will also be on hand to distribute pink ribbons to those in attendance.
Inside the Hodge Center, volleyball t-shirts with the pink Spartan logo will be on sale for $8. Donation buckets will be available at the entrances and passed throughout the stands during the match. A Gibbs Center guest speaker will address the crowd in between the second and third sets. Proceeds from the t-shirt and bake sales along with all donations will benefit the Gibbs Cancer Center. Fans are encouraged to pick up a bright pink drink koozie when leaving a donation.