JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2013) – Following its brief two-match homestand, the ETSU volleyball team hits the road this weekend as the Bucs sail into the Sunshine State to take on Jacksonville and North Florida in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
The Bucs, who have won their last nine matches, take on Jacksonville Friday night at 7 p.m. inside Swisher Gym, while ETSU and UNF tangle in a rematch of last season’s A-Sun Championship Saturday at 3 p.m., in UNF Arena.
ETSU (13-6, 7-0) remains in first-place in the conference standings as the Bucs hold a one-game lead over Jacksonville.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bucs took care of business over reigning A-Sun regular season champion Florida Gulf Coast last Saturday inside Brooks Gym. ETSU captured its second straight three-set win as the Bucs defeated the Eagles, 25-16, 25-20, 25-16, marking their first-ever sweep over FGCU.
Junior middle blocker Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) capped off a strong homestand by finishing with 13 kills, six blocks and a blistering .579 attack percentage on Saturday. For the weekend, Hardy hit .543 (23-4-35) and totaled 11 blocks, and was named A-Sun Player of the Week on Monday.
Senior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) tallied her 10th double-double of the year as she registered a match-high 15 kills and 12 digs, while junior Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) quarterbacked the Blue and Gold offense by dishing out 40 of ETSU’s 41 assists. Rutledge also added four digs, three blocks, and two kills.
As a team, the Bucs won every statistical category on the stat sheet. ETSU was plus-19 in kills (46-27), plus-15 in assists (41-26), plus-6 in service aces (8-2), plus-6 in digs (47-41), and plus-3 in blocks (9-6). Junior Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) led the charge with a season-high four service aces, while the Bucs tied a season best with eight total aces as a team.
The Dolphins have won six straight and enter the weekend with a record of 16-2, 6-1.
Jacksonville has won its last 10 matches inside Swisher Gym and are a perfect 7-0 at home this season.
As a team, Jacksonville ranks 10th nationally in service aces per set (1.78), 21st in kills per set (14.13), and 28th in assists per set (13.12). The Dolphins also lead the A-Sun in opponent hitting percentage (.173).
The Dolphins have four players ranked in the top-8 in the A-Sun in service aces per set – Kendall Courtney (1st, 0.39), Sammie Strausbaugh (4th, 0.33), Taylor Nyquist (7th, 0.30), and Alyssa Robertson (8th, 0.28). In addition, the Dolphins have four players ranked in the top-9 in the conference in hitting percentage – Kylie Jacob (6th, .301), Robertson (7th, .299), Gabriela Roman (8th, .298) and Strausbaugh (9th, .288).
SERIES HISTORY VS. JACKSONVILLE
Friday marks the 15th meeting between the schools as Jacksonville holds a slight, 8-6, series lead. ETSU and Jacksonville split the series last year, with both teams winning on its home floor.
Last year, Hardy averaged 2.75 kills (22 total) and 2.00 blocks (16 total) per set, along with hitting .528 (22-3-36) in the two matches against the Dolphins. Hardy posted a double-double (13 kills/11 blocks) in the five-set loss at Jacksonville, but hit .692 (9-0-13) with five blocks in the sweep inside Brooks Gym.
Devine also collected a double-double in the setback inside Swisher Gym as she tallied 18 kills and 13 digs. For her career, Devine is averaging 3.65 kills (62 total) and 2.82 digs (48 total) in four matches against the Dolphins.
In last year’s series, ETSU out-blocked Jacksonville, by eight (25-17), while also having six more service aces than the Dolphins, 13 to 7.
UNF snapped a two-match skid after sweeping Bethune-Cookman Tuesday night, improving its record to 6-12. The Ospreys enter the weekend with a 2-5 conference mark as their wins were sweeps over Mercer and Northern Kentucky.
This marks the second consecutive season UNF begins the A-Sun schedule 2-5. Last year after going 2-5 the Ospreys began to soar, posting a 10-2 mark through the remainder of the regular season and knocking off Jacksonville and No. 1 seed FGCU before falling in five sets to ETSU in the A-Sun Championship final.
The Ospreys are ranked in the top three of a trio of A-Sun statistical categories including second in service aces (1.48), and third in blocks (2.18) and opponent hitting percentage (.186).
Individually, Cameron McGuire ranks second in the A-Sun behind Meredith Hardy in blocks per set (1.09) and Britt Claessens is second in service aces per set (0.36).
SERIES HISTORY VS. UNF
ETSU leads the all-time series over UNF, 10-4.
Despite losing the battle on the stat sheet, the Bucs defeated UNF in two of the three meetings in 2012, including a five-set win in the A-Sun Championship. In the 14 total sets played, ETSU was minus-29 in kills (156-185), minus-22 in assists (148-170), and minus-22 in digs (170-192), while also being out-hit .171 to 158. The Bucs were plus-one in service aces (12-11) and plus-12.5 in blocks (44.5-32.0), while also committing 19 fewer attack errors than the Ospreys, 81 to 100.
Devine posted double-doubles in all three matches last year, while Hardy accomplished the feat in two of the three meetings. Devine averaged 3.00 kills and 3.29 digs per set, and Hardy averaged 2.71 kills and 2.00 blocks per set versus UNF in 2012.
Both matches will be broadcast live on ASun.TV for free.
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- The ETSU volleyball team is off to its best conference start since the Bucs went 9-0 in 2006, while the Bucs’ nine-match win streak is their longest since winning 16 straight in 2006. Furthermore, ETSU’s nine-match win streak is currently tied for the seventh longest in the country.
- During this win streak, the Blue and Gold are averaging 14.85 kills, 13.91 assists, 14.62 digs, and 3.97 blocks per set, while holding the opposition to 11.65 kills, 11.12 assists, 13.12 digs, and 1.53 blocks per set. Overall, the Bucs are plus-109 (505-396) in kills and plus-52.5 in blocks (104.5 to 52.0) during this run.
- Individually, Megan Devine is averaging 4.82 kills, 3.24 digs, and hitting .327 during this nine-match run. In addition, Meredith Hardy is recording 1.74 blocks per set, Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) is posting 4.15 digs per set, Jamie Rutledge is averaging 12.24 assists per set, and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) is hitting .305 (87-27-197) in ETSU’s last nine outings.
- Nationally, Meredith Hardy ranks fourth in blocks per set (1.56), Megan Devine ranks 11th in kills (4.59) and points per set (5.18), and Jamie Rutledge ranks 33rd in assists per set (10.93). As a team, ETSU ranks 23rd in blocks (2.73) and 40th in assists per set (12.83), while its .255 attack percentage ranks 37th.
- In 119 career matches, Megan Devine has totaled 1,722 kills and 1,308 digs. The reigning A-Sun Player of the Year is the all-time ETSU leader in kills, while she is 80 digs shy of passing Kaena Apana (2006-07) for fifth. Devine’s 1,722 kills rank second among active NCAA Division I leaders (Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski ranks first). Devine also ranks second all-time in kills among A-Sun players and is 25 kills away from passing Lipscomb’s Alex Kelly for the most in conference history.
- Megan Devine has 10th double-doubles this season, moving her career total to 62. For her career, Devine has played in all but two of the 121 total matches possible for ETSU.
- Meredith Hardy has played in 84 total matches since 2011 and has tallied 401 total blocks (346 block assists). Hardy broke the all-time ETSU block assists record two weeks ago at Lipscomb, passing Jennifer Pennington (1993-96). The Buccaneer middle blocker ranks second all-time in blocks and is 137 blocks shy of break Pennington’s mark. In addition, Hardy is also 22 blocks shy of breaking the all-time A-Sun record (currently held by Campbell’s Rachel Templin, 422).
- Meredith Hardy has recorded at least one block in 81 consecutive matches.
- Junior libero Katie Muey is closing in on her 1,000th career dig as the Alexandria, Ind. native has 976 digs in 86 matches played.
- As a team, ETSU leads the A-Sun in blocks per set (2.73), ranks second in hitting percentage (.255), and ranks third in kills (13.65) and assists (12.83) per set.
- In their first seven conference matches, the Bucs have out-blocked the opposition, 88.5 to 40.0.
- Megan Devine’s 22-kill effort at USC Upstate (Sept. 26) are the most by an A-Sun player in a three-set match this season, while her career-high 27-kill performance in the win at Tennessee (Sept. 14) are the most in a four-set match. Meanwhile, Jamie Rutledge’s 62 assists at Tennessee are the most by an A-Sun player in a four-set match this season and Meredith Hardy’s 11 blocks at Kennesaw State (Sept. 21) are tied for the most by any conference player. Hardy also has the most blocks by an A-Sun player in a four-set (11, vs. Kennesaw State) and three-set (10, vs. VCU, Sept. 7) match this year.
- As a team, the Bucs’ .407 attack percentage (74-19-135), 74 kills, and 69 assists are the highest marks in the A-Sun for a four-set match this season. ETSU hit .407 and posted 74 kills vs. Austin Peay on Sept. 13, and had 69 assists in the win at Tennessee. In addition, the Blue and Gold have the most blocks in a match (15.5, at Kennesaw State, Sept. 21) and in a three-set match (13, vs. Stetson, Oct. 11) this season.
- Back on Sept. 20, head coach Lindsey Devine became the all-time winningest coach at ETSU by recording her 172nd win at Mercer. Devine now has 178 career victories with the Bucs.
- Six of the 14 players on ETSU’s roster are from the state of Tennessee, including five from the Tri-Cities area – three Kingsport and two Johnson City.
- The Blue and Gold have won 25 of their last 32 matches inside Brooks Gym, including 13 of 14 dating back to last season. Following these two road matches, ETSU will play seven of its last nine matches at home.
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