JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 1, 2012) – Coming off a four-game road swing, the ETSU volleyball team returns home this weekend when the Bucs host Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson inside Brooks Gym. The Bucs will face league-leading and undefeated FGCU Friday night at 7 p.m., while taking on Stetson Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Blue and Gold split their road swing and enter the weekend with a record of 17-10, 8-5, while also looking to secure a spot in the Atlantic Sun Championship later this month. FGCU and Lipscomb have already clinched spots in the tournament, which leaves four open slots for six teams battling to get in.
LAST TIME OUT
The ETSU volleyball team used a total team effort to bounce back into the win column as the Bucs defeated Northern Kentucky in a five-set thriller (25-20, 19-25, 27-25, 22-25, 15-10) last Saturday inside Regents Hall. As a team, the Bucs hit .268 (78-29-183) and posted season highs in kills (78) and assists (74), while individually four ETSU players either set or tied career marks in the match. Sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) finished with a career high 25 kills along with hitting a team-best .476 (25-5-42), and compiling five blocks and four digs. Meanwhile, fellow sophomores Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.), and Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) tied their career bests in digs and assists. Muey – who registered 22 digs last August against Coastal Carolina – accomplished the same feat in the win over the Norse, while for the second time this season and against the same opponent, Rutledge totaled 64 assists. In addition to the assists, Rutledge added eight digs and four blocks. Freshman Ashleigh Shain (Geneva, Ill.) also matched her career mark in digs with 10. Along with the career performances, junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and sophomore Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) also put forth solid efforts for the Bucs. Devine notched her fifth straight double-double after tallying 18 kills, 14 digs, and five blocks, while Rice provided one of own with 14 kills and 14 digs.
The Eagles carry the nation’s second longest winning streak into Johnson City as FGCU has won 14 straight matches, which currently ties them with No. 11 Florida State and Towson. That trio trails No. 19 Western Kentucky, Morehead State and No. 1 Stanford, who have posted 18 straight overall wins. In addition, the Eagles' 14 straight conference wins are also the third highest total nationally, trailing Maryland-Eastern Shore's 20 straight MEAC victories and Morehead State, who has claimed 18 consecutive OVC wins.
FGCU’s (19-7, 14-0) most recent win was a three-set victory versus Jacksonville on Tuesday night. As a team, the Eagles hit .330 (41-12-88) and held the Dolphins to a .125 (33-21-96) clip, while also out-blocking Jacksonville, 11-3. FGCU is led by sophomore middle blocker Olivia Mesner and sophomore outside hitter Jill Hopper as they lead the A-Sun in attack percentage and service aces per set. Mesner is hitting .368 (215-53-440) in 26 matches and Hopper is averaging 0.38 aces per set. Meanwhile, thru 14 conference matches, the Eagles lead the A-Sun in attack percentage (.277) and opponent hitting percentage (.175).
Stetson has dropped its last seven matches and enters Friday’s game at USC Upstate with a record of 4-27, 0-14. The Hatters are led defensively by senior libero Monique Russell and offensively by junior outside hitter Kaley Melville. Russell ranks sixth in the A-Sun with 4.16 digs per set, while Melville is averaging 2.84 kills per set.
The Hatters are coming off a pair of 3-1 setbacks to FGCU and North Florida. Melville added a double-double in the loss to UNF after registering 12 kills and 10 digs and freshman outsider hitter Cailyn Prewitt led the team with a .345 attack percentage. Prewitt finished with 11 kills on 29 swings and only committed one error.
ETSU vs. FGCU
Since joining the league in 2007, FGCU has won seven of the eight meetings over ETSU, with the Bucs’ lone win coming in a sweep against the Eagles in 2010. Back in September, the Eagles swept the Blue and Gold in Ft. Myers despite Megan Devine leading all players with 15 kills. The Bucs led in two of the three sets, but couldn’t overcome the unforced errors as ETSU finished with 29 miscues. Last year at FGCU, Devine recorded a career-high 26 kills, while Jamie Rutledge and Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) combined for 56 of the 60 assists. Rutledge posted 31 assists and Williams generated 26.
ETSU vs. STETSON
Saturday marks the 13th meeting between ETSU and Stetson, with the Blue and Gold taking the previous 12 meetings, including a five-set comeback win in September. The Bucs dropped the first two sets in the match, but ETSU fought back behind the strong play of Megan Devine and Jamie Rutledge as the Bucs rallied past the Hatters, 3-2. Devine and Rutledge both recorded double-doubles in the critical come-from-behind victory, while Meredith Hardy sparked the Blue and Gold with her stellar defensive play at the net. Devine finished with 19 kills, 13 digs, four blocks, and three service aces and Rutledge added 24 assists, 10 digs, three blocks, and two kills. Meanwhile, Hardy posted seven kills and a career-high 12 blocks. Overall, ETSU is 4-0 against the Hatters in games played in Brooks Gym, with none of those matches going over four sets.
Friday’s game will be video streamed live for free on ASun.TV, while live stats will also be available for both matches through ETSUBucs.com. Twitter updates can also be accessed by following @ETSUAthletics.
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