Spartan Volleyball Migrates South for Sunshine State Stint
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate volleyball team (6-11, 2-3 A-Sun) heads to the Sunshine State this weekend for a trio of contests. The Spartans face Atlantic Sun Conference foes Florida Gulf Coast (10-8, 4-1 A-Sun) Friday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. and Stetson (5-12, 0-5 A-Sun) Saturday, Oct. 15 at 5 p.m., followed by a non-conference match against Bethune-Cookman (9-10) Sunday, Oct. 16 at noon.
FGCU holds a 6-0 advantage in the all-time series against Upstate, including a 3-0 mark at home. Last time out, the Spartans fell to the Eagles 3-0 Oct. 29, 2010 in Spartanburg, S.C. The Eagles are led by Jill Hopper with 217 kills on the season and Gigi Meyer with 521 assists. Defensively, Olivia Mesner leads the way with 43 blocks, while Holly Youngquist tallies 244 digs for FGCU.
Upstate has a 6-1 record against Stetson, including a 3-0 mark in DeLand, Fla. The Spartans beat the Hatters twice last season in Spartanburg, claiming a 3-1 conference win Sept. 16, 2010 and a 3-1 non-conference victory at the Wofford Tournament Sept. 17, 2010. The Hatters are led offensively by Kaley Melville and Kellie Carneal with 186 kills and 348 assists, respectively. Monique Russell posts a team-high 227 digs for Stetson, while Ellen Hawks has 55 blocks this season.
The Spartans squared off with Bethune-Cookman for the first time in school history last season, defeating the Lady Wildcats 3-1 Sept. 30, 2010 in Spartanburg. BCU is led by Krysta Gardner with 289 kills, while Frances Rodriguez has handed out 474 assists this year. Linda Nwabuko leads the 'Cats with 38 blocks, while Jennifer Jimenez has 229 digs.
Seniors Morgan Thomas and Kelsie Queen lead the Spartans with 174 and 116 kills, respectively. Junior Emily Sanders has dished out 439 assists, averaging 7.44 per set. Defensively, sophomore Morgan Page has a team-best with 253 digs, followed by Sanders with 194. Thomas leads the defensive charge at the net with 41 total blocks on the season, while freshman Kayla McAvoy tallies 37.
Sanders ranks seventh in Upstate history with 2,037 career-assists, passing Monica Henderson's (1988-89) mark of 1,947. She is eight assists away from Holly Mauldin's (2005-08) sixth-place notch of 2,045.
Last week, Thomas tallied 30 kills for a .379 hitting percentage. She has 896 career-kills, four shy of the 900-career mark. The senior is also making record waves on defense as well. After recording four assisted blocks last week, she ranks fifth all-time in career-block assists at Upstate with 225, passing Maggie Smith's (1985-86) mark of 222. The senior sits just outside of the school record books with 290 total career denials. She is 12 blocks away from tying Trina Beaty's (1990-91) 10th-best mark of 302.