Upstate Volleyball Set for Hodge Center Triple-Feature
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate volleyball team (7-13, 2-5 A-Sun) prepares for a four-match homestand at the Hodge Center, beginning with three matches this week. The Spartans host non-conference opponent South Carolina State (13-11) Wednesday at 7 p.m., then gear-up for a pair of Atlantic Sun Conference contests against Kennesaw State (9-12, 4-2 A-Sun) Friday at 7 p.m. and Mercer (7-15, 1-5 A-Sun) Saturday at 3 p.m.
Upstate leads the all-time series against S.C. State 12-0, including a 7-0 record at home. In an Aug. 28, 2007 contest with the Bulldogs, the Spartans earned a 3-0 win. S.C. State is undefeated in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 5-0 mark this season. The Bulldogs are led by Desire Waller with 307 kills and Bria Brimmer with 778 assists, while Sharbree Roberson posts 80 blocks. Waller also has a team-high 197 digs.
KSU holds a 4-2 advantage overall against Upstate with a 2-1 mark in the Hodge Center. The Owls won the last meeting 3-1 in Kennesaw, Ga., Nov. 6, 2010. Kennesaw is fourth in the A-Sun standings with a 4-2 mark in conference play, winning its last four contests. KSU is coming off of a 13 day hiatus, most recently beating Florida Gulf Coast 3-0 Oct. 8. The Owls are led by Justine Young with 285 kills and Sara Matroka with 784 assists. Holly Knight boasts a team-high 63 blocks, while Camille Pedraza has 258 digs to lead KSU.
Mercer leads the overall series against Upstate 5-1, including a 2-1 record in the Hodge. Last time out, the Bears claimed a 3-1 victory at home Nov. 5, 2010. Most recently, the Bears beat Savannah State in three sets Oct. 13. Mercer is led offensively by Jennifer Katona with 177 kills and Madeline Dolny with 383 assists. Defensively, Charlotte Harris has collected a team-high 304 digs, while Katona leads the charge at the net with 66 blocks.
Senior Morgan Thomas and freshman Kayla McAvoy lead the Spartans with 201 and 131 kills, respectively. Junior Emily Sanders has dished out 526 assists, averaging 7.62 per set. Defensively, sophomore Morgan Page has a team-best with 285 digs, followed by Sanders with 234. Thomas leads the defensive charge at the net with 50 total blocks on the season, while freshman Kayla McAvoy tallies 40.
Sanders is the A-Sun's active leader in career-assists with 2,124. She ranks sixth in Upstate history, passing Holly Mauldin's (2005-08) mark of 2,045. She is 154 assists away from Lisa Wilson's (1989-92) fifth-place notch of 2,278 and 155 assists shy of Morgan Bucciferro's (2006-09) fourth-place mark of 2,279.
Last week, Thomas registered her 900th career-kill Oct. 14 at Florida Gulf Coast. She has 923 career-kills, ranking third among conference active career-kill leaders. The senior is also making record waves on defense as well. She ranks fifth all-time in career-block assists at Upstate with 230, just five shy of Kendall Harper's (1998-01) fourth-place mark of 235. The senior sits just outside of the school record books with 299 total career denials. She is three blocks away from tying Trina Beaty's (1990-91) 10th-best mark of 302 and 10 shy of Harper's ninth-place mark of 309.