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Volleyball Preview: Spartan Spiketacular

Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications  
Release: 09/14/2012
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The UNCW volleyball team completes its 10-match road swing this weekend with an appearance in the Spartan Spiketacular, hosted by UNC Greensboro
View larger Courtesy: Joe Browning

The UNCW volleyball team completes its 10-match road swing this weekend with an appearance in the Spartan Spiketacular, hosted by UNC Greensboro
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - The UNCW volleyball team completes its 10-match road swing this weekend with an appearance in the Spartan Spiketacular, hosted by UNC Greensboro.

Tournament Format
The Spartan Spiketacular will feature six matches, with all four teams playing each other once in a round-robin format to determine the tournament champion ... UNCW opens the two-day event Friday with a 7:30 p.m. match against host UNC Greensboro ... The Seahawks wrap up their tournament appearance on Saturday with matches against Morehead State (9:30 a.m.) and Youngstown State (4:30 p.m.).

Staying Connected
Live stats are available for all three of UNCW's matches in the Spartan Spiketacular  and can be accessed by clicking here ... All three of UNCW's matches during the tournament will also be video streamed for free and can be viewed by clicking here ... Fans can also keep up with the volleyball program by checking out the program's Facebook (UNCWsports) and Twitter (@SeahawkVB) accounts or the department's Facebook (UNCWsports) and Twitter (@UNCWAthletics) pages.

Seahawk Notes
UNCW brings a 6-5 record into the Spartan Spiketacular following a 3-2 setback at NC State on Tuesday ... The Seahawks captured the first two sets of Tuesday's matchup with the Wolfpack, but were unable to put them away as NC State rallied to win the final three frames and the match ... Senior Jennifer Mallard scored 12 kills and sophomore McKenzie Keightley added 10 for UNCW to highlight a balanced Seahawks attack that saw five players finish with eight or more spikes versus the Wolfpack ... At the net, Keightley recorded a match-best nine total blocks, including three solo rejections, while senior Natalie Lahaie and freshman Meredith Peacock chipped in five total blocks each ... Lahaie also dished out 41 assists and added six kills and eight digs in an all-around effort ... Junior Haley Collins tallied a team-high 22 digs to highlight UNCW's back row efforts ... Junior Christi Laite continues to lead the team in kills per set (3.08) and is ranked seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association that category ... Laite also sits sixth among all league players in points per frame (3.85) ... Keightley, meanwhile, is second in the league in hitting percentage (.331) and blocks per set (1.13) ... Freshman Victoria Phillips (7.92) and senior Natalie Lahaie (7.61) are sixth and seventh in the league, respectively, in assists per frame.

Scouting UNC Greensboro
UNC Greensboro begins the Spartan Spiketacular with a 4-4 record after suffering a 3-0 setback to visiting Ohio on Thursday ... The Spartans look to reverse the recent fortunes, having dropped four of their last five matches ... Three of those four losses occurred in five sets ... Junior Kerrian Chambers leads the team with a 3.03 kills per set average while freshman Lauren Betlach ranks second with a 2.75 kills per frame clip ... Senior Ari Lysacek and sophomore Emily McMutrey have split setter duties in the early going, averaging 8.71 and 5.68 assists per set, respectively ... Sophomore outside hitter Vicky Harley leads UNCG with a .276 hitting percentage and is first on the team blocking with 1.07 stuffs per set ... junior Kellie Orewiler and freshman Katherine Santiago have paced the Spartans back row, averaging 3.68 and 3.93 digs per frame, respectively.

Series Notes Versus UNC Greensboro
UNCW trails UNC Greensboro by a 6-13 margin in the all-time series between the two state rivals ... The Spartans have held the edge of late, winning each of the last five matchups between the two programs, dating back to the 1998 season ... UNCG posted a 3-0 sweep of UNCW in the last meeting between the two programs on Sept. 4, 2010, in the UNCW Courtyard by Marriott Tournament at Hanover Hall ... The Seahawks are 4-8 in road matches against the Spartans, including a 3-1 setback in their last road matchup against UNCG on Aug. 24, 2007.

Scouting Morehead State
Winners of five of its last six matches, Morehead State brings a 5-6 overall record into the Spartan Spiketacular ... The Eagles were picked to repeat as Ohio Valley Conference Champions in the league's preseason poll after capturing the program's first OVC  tournament title a season ago ... Senior Ellie Robertson, a Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selection, paces the team in kills per set (3.86) while fellow Preseason All-OVC pick Aryn Bohannon is second on the team with a 3.05 kills per frame clip ... Senior Caitlin Clark has served as the team's primary setter, averaging 7.90 assists per set ... Junior libero Leslie Schellhaas, the reigning OVC Defensive Player-of-the-Week, leads the team in digs per set (4.88) ... Senior middle blocker Annie Gruenschlaeger paces the OVC with 55 total blocks (1.31 per set).

Series Notes Versus Morehead State
Saturday's match represents the first meeting between UNCW and Morehead State.

Scouting Youngstown State
Youngstown State stands at 8-3 on the season after posting a 2-1 result in the Zips Invitational last weekend ... The Penguins defeated Binghamton in five sets and SIU-Edwardsville in four sets before falling to host Akron in four sets in the title match ... Junior Missy Hundelt leads the kills per set (3.05) and ranks second on the squad in digs per frame (2.50) ... Sophomore Shannon Watson sits second on the team in kills (2.31) and is first in the Horizon League in blocks per frame (1.31) ... Junior Casey D'Ambrose and freshman Erin Muir have split time in the setter position, averaging 7.05 and 4.50 assists per frame, respectively ... Junior Erika West highlight the Penguins defensive efforts as she is first on the squad in digs per frame (3.10).

Series Notes Versus Youngstown State
UNCW lost its only previous meeting against Youngstown State, suffering a 3-1 setback to the Penguins in a regular-season tournament in Youngstown, Ohio on Sept. 11, 2004. 

All-Tournament Team Honors
Four players have earned a total of five All-Tournament Team honors this season ... Sophomore McKenzie Keightley and freshman Lindsay Hartman earned the distinction during the UNCW Courtyard Wilmington Beach Bash in August ... Senior Jennifer Mallard was recognized at the Deacon Invitational Labor Day Weekend ... Mallard and junior Christi Laite were honored at the Spartan Classic last weekend.

Laite Named To CAA Preseason Squad
UNCW junior right side hitter Christi Laite was named to the Preseason All-CAA Volleyball Team on Aug. 21 ... A Second-Team All-CAA and NCCSIA All-State Team selection in 2011, Laite played in 29 matches for the Seahawks last season and ranked sixth in the league in kills per set (3.28) while pacing the squad in attack percentage (.233) ... She also pitched 83 total blocks and 27 service aces to finish the season fifth in the league in points per frame (3.92) ... Defensively, the Severna Park, Md., product averaged 1.42 digs per set as she recorded three double-doubles during her sophomore campaign.

Seahawks Hit On All Cylinders Against Hatters
UNCW turned in one of its best hitting performances in recent memory in its 3-0 victory versus Stetson in the Spartan Classic on Sept. 7, recording 34 kills and just seven errors in 68 total attempts for a .397 hitting percentage ... That total represented the best single-match hitting percentage for a UNCW lineup since the start of the 2002 season, eclipsing the previous single-match high since 2002, a 3-0 victory over Grambling State on Sept. 12, 2003, that saw UNCW finish with 53 kills and only 15 attack errors in 98 total attempts for a .388 attack clip ... The performance also marked the second time this season that UNCW has teamed up to hit better than .350 in a match ... The Seahawks combined for a .372 hitting percentage in a 3-0 victory over Delaware State in the UNCW Courtyard Wilmington Beach Bash Aug. 25, combining to record 47 kills and just 15 errors in 86 total attempts

Record Watch
Setter Natalie Lahaie heads into the Spartan Spiketacular with 1,203 assists, good for 10th place on the program's all-time list ... Lahaie, who moved into 10th place on the career list during the Spartan Classic, is now just five assists shy of matching former Seahawk setter Ginger Bradbury (2000-01) for ninth place ... Junior libero Haley Collins begins the weekend with 923 career digs, good for ninth place on the program's career chart ... Collins recorded 22 digs in Tuesday's match with the Wolfpack to move into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time list ... She sits just 73 digs away from becoming the ninth player in program history with 1,000 career digs. 

Going The Distance
Since the start of the 2010 season, UNCW is 9-5 in matches that have gone five sets ... The Seahawks posted a perfect 4-0 record in such contests in 2010 and were 5-3 in five-set matches a season ago ... UNCW has played two five-set match this season, both against members of the Atlantic Coast Conference ... The Seahawks have been on the short end of both matches, suffering a 3-2 setback at Wake Forest to open the Deacon Invitational on Aug. 31 and falling at NC State in midweek action on Sept. 11. 

Making Short Work Of The Opposition
UNCW has wasted little time in recording its victories this season as all six of its wins thus far have come by way of sweep ... The Seahawks have dominated the opposition in those contests, posting an average margin of victory of 7.4 points with only five of those 18 sets having been decided by five points or less.

Around The Colonial Athletic Association
Northeastern and Towson are tied atop the league standings at 8-3 while Hofstra sits just back of the duo in second at 8-4 ... James Madison's Lizzy Briones (Offensive), Towson's Alysha McCreary (Defensive) and William & Mary's Dessi Koleva (Rookie) received the league's weekly awards on Monday .. Hofstra's Kelsie Willis continues to pace the league in kills per set (5.05) while teammate Adama Aja is first in blocks per frame (1.38) ... Northeastern's Natalia Skiba is first on the circuit in digs per set (5.84).

Up Next
UNCW returns to Hanover Hall for the first time in 11 matches Sept. 18 as it hosts The Citadel in a 6 p.m. non-conference match.

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