JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 8, 2012) – Having already locked up a spot in next week’s Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, the ETSU volleyball team will look to keep its winning ways intact when the Bucs wrap up their regular season down in Jacksonville this weekend. The Bucs take on North Florida Friday night at 7 p.m., inside UNF Arena and face Jacksonville Saturday at 5 p.m., inside Swisher Gym.
ETSU (20-10, 11-5 A-Sun) – who can secure the No. 3 seed with a win over UNF or a Lipscomb loss on Friday – is riding a four-game winning streak into the River City after defeating Kennesaw State, 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-21), on Tuesday night inside Brooks Gym. The win marked the Bucs’ 10th win in their last 13 matches, while ETSU concluded with an impressive 10-1 home record this season.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite dropping the first set and trailing 20-15 in the third, the ETSU volleyball team rallied back to knock off Kennesaw State, 3-1, Tuesday night at home. Sophomore Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) and junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered double-doubles, while Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) and Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) tallied double-digit kills. Rutledge quarterbacked the Buccaneer offense by finishing with a match-high 49 assists and added 10 digs and Devine added 20 kills and 15 digs – marking her 13th double-double in conference play which tied the A-Sun single-season record with FGCU’s Jelena Simic (13, in 2009). Overall, Devine leads all A-Sun players with 21 double-doubles on the year and has accomplished the feat in eight straight matches. Meanwhile, for the fourth consecutive match and the 10th time in the last 12 outings, Gesell generated double figures in kills as she ended with 12 along with a .320 hitting percentage. Hardy hit .400 in the four sets played and finished with 14 kills on the night.
UNF (18-11, 9-7 A-Sun) also enters Friday’s match on a four-matching winning streak and has won eight of its last 10. The Ospreys have defeated Kennesaw State (3-0), Mercer (3-0), Stetson (3-1), and Jacksonville (3-0) during this stretch and are 8-3 inside UNF Arena this season. UNF is led by senior outside hitter Paige Pridgeon and junior setter Britt Claessens. Pridgeon ranks fifth in the league with 3.43 kills per set and Claessens is third with 11.17 assists per set. Meanwhile, senior middle blocker Dagnija Medina leads the A-Sun in service aces per set (0.37) and is sixth in hitting percentage (.299), while senior libero Nicole Baran ranks second in digs per set at 5.06. As a team, the Ospreys are holding their opponents to a league-best .169 hitting percentage and also rank third in assists (12.83), service aces (1.36), and digs (17.39).
ETSU vs. UNF
ETSU has won nine of the 12 meetings in the series, including five straight. Of the 12 meetings, only four have been played in Jacksonville, with the Ospreys holding 3-1 mark in those games; however, the Bucs took the last meeting in UNF Arena back on Oct. 16, 2010. Most recently, the Bucs defeated the Ospreys, 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 26-24), last month in Johnson City as the Blue and Gold out-blocked UNF, 17-6, and held them to a .117 attack percentage. Individually, Hardy and Devine both collected double-doubles in the win. Hardy tallied 12 kills and 10 blocks, while Devine pitched in with 13 kills, 11 digs, and a career high seven blocks.
The Dolphins have won four of their last six games and enter Friday’s match with USC Upstate at 8-22, 5-11 in A-Sun play. Jacksonville is battling for the final two spots in the conference tournament as the Dolphins are a half-game behind Mercer for the sixth and final spot and one-game back of Upstate for fifth. The Dolphins are coming off a sweep over Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night behind freshman Sammie Strausbaugh’s 14-kill, 9-dig performance. In addition, junior Kylie Jacob finished with nine kills, while freshman Thayla Pagan and junior Kendall Courtney each had nine digs. Overall, Jacksonville ranks third in the A-Sun in blocks (1.77) and junior setter Kendall Courtney ranks fifth in the conference in assists per set (9.58).
ETSU vs. JACKSONVILLE
Saturday marks the 14th meeting between the two schools with the Dolphins holding a slight 7-6 series lead; however, ETSU swept Jacksonville last month in Brooks Gym. Once again, only four games in the series have been played at JU, with the Dolphins holding a 3-1 record in those contests. Just like they did at UNF, the Blue and Gold defeated the Dolphins in their last trip to the Jacksonville in 2010. Meanwhile, last month, ETSU forced Jacksonville into 23 attack errors and held the Dolphins to a .144 hitting percentage. Gesell led the Buccaneer offense with 12 kills and Hardy hit a career-best .692 (9-0-13) in the match.
Friday's game will be broadcast live on ASun.TV for free, while live stats for the UNF match will be provided on UNFOspreys.com and the JU live stats can be accessed by visiting JUDolphins.com. Also, live Twitter updates will be available by following @ETSUAthletics.
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For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball page.