JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 21, 2014) – The ETSU volleyball team begins its run for a Southern Conference championship as the fourth-seeded Buccaneers take on fifth seed Western Carolina in Saturday’s quarterfinal match. First serve is set for noon inside UNC Greensboro’s Fleming Gym.
ABOUT THE BUCS
The Bucs, who tied for second in the regular season, earned the No. 4 seed after the conference tiebreakers were played out, while the Catamounts secured the fifth seed. ETSU and Western Carolina split the season series as both teams won on its home floor.
The Blue and Gold were tied with Samford and UNCG for second, but Samford earned the No. 2 since the Bulldogs split the season series with regular season champion Furman, while ETSU and UNCG – who split the regular season head-to-head meetings and finished with identical records against the rest of the conference – determined its seeding based on RPI rankings. The Spartans held an RPI of 154, compared to ETSU’s being at 174.
ETSU (17-15, 11-5 SoCon) carries a six-match win streak into the conference tournament, while the Blue and Gold defeated the Catamounts in the previous meeting back on Nov. 4 inside Brooks Gym. Western Carolina won the first meeting last month in Cullowhee. Both matches went five sets.
ETSU VS. WESTERN CAROLINA
Saturday marks the 59th all-time meeting between the two programs and the series is all-square at 29, but the Bucs have won six of the last nine over the Catamounts.
ETSU and Western Carolina have met six times in the SoCon Tournament with the Catamounts winning four of those matches.
This season, senior libero Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) averaged 7.30 digs (73 total) in the two matches versus Western Carolina, while fellow senior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) posted 4.20 kills (42 total) and 1.10 blocks per set (11 total). Sophomore setter Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) registered double-doubles in both matches against the Catamounts and senior Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) had one of her four double-doubles versus Western Carolina as well. Favre totaled 91 assists, 27 digs and five service aces against the Catamounts, while Gesell finished with 17 kills and a career-high 31 digs in the five-set loss in Cullowhee.
Sitting two games above .500, ETSU has secured itself a third straight winning campaign.
ETSU finished its home schedule with nine straight wins, which is tied for the 11th longest home win streak in the country.
The Bucs are looking to win a conference tournament championship for the second time in three seasons … ETSU won the 2012 A-Sun Championship and advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament … In their first stint in the SoCon, the Bucs won two conference tournament titles – the last coming in 1992 … This weekend marks ETSU’s 22nd SoCon Championship appearance and the Bucs are 15-18 in their previous trips.
During their six-match win streak, Meredith Hardy (3.92) and Bethany Gesell (3.12) are both averaging over three kills per set, while Katie Muey is posting 5.85 digs per set ... The duo setter combination of Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Kristen Favre have accounted for 294 of ETSU’s 327 assists ... Favre has totaled 178 assists and 11 service aces during this stretch and Rutledge has 116 assists.
As a team, the Blue and Gold are averaging 13.5 kills, 12.5 assists, 16.5 digs and 1.96 blocks per set during this six-match win streak.
Overall, ETSU ranks 15th nationally in service aces (175), 18th in digs (1,930), 19th in kills (1,558), and 21st in blocks (285.0) … Individually, Katie Muey ranks second nationally in total digs (667) and 28th in service aces (42), while Meredith Hardy is 20th in total blocks (143) … Muey’s 667 digs are the second-most in ETSU single-season history (Kaena Apana, 750 in 2007).
Katie Muey and Meredith Hardy also rank among the top NCAA active career leaders as well … Muey – ETSU career leader in total digs – ranks 16th nationally with 1,829 digs and is the active leader in sets played (507) … Hardy – ETSU’s career leader for total blocks and block assists – is second among active NCAA leaders with 617 total blocks and is 36th in kills (1,327) … Hardy is the lone active player to register over 1,300 kills and 600 blocks.
Katie Muey was named the Southern Conference Libero of the Year, while she joined Meredith Hardy with first team All-SoCon honors … Rylee Milhorn was selected to the SoCon All-Freshman Team.
Katie Muey and Meredith Hardy also claimed a plethora of SoCon honors during the year as Muey was a four-time Defensive Player of the Week recipient and was also named Player of the Month for October … Hardy received one Player of the Week honor and was named September’s Player of the Month.
Katie Muey posted double-digit digs in all 32 matches, while she led all players in digs in each of ETSU’s 16 conference matches … Muey’s career-high 40-dig performance against Western Carolina is tied for the 10th-most by a player this season, while her 33-dig effort in the win over Lehigh broke ETSU’s single-match record for a three-setter.
Meredith Hardy’s 12 blocks in the three-set win over George Mason back in September not only tied a career-high, but they’re also the most by a Division I player in a three-set match this season.
Ivey Rice and Meredith Hardy both joined the 1,000-kill club this season … Hardy earned her 1,000th career kill back in September against Utah, while Rice accomplished the feat in the four-set win over MTSU in October … Hardy’s 1,327 career kills rank fifth in ETSU history and needs 11 more to pass Tish Wilson (1991-94) for fourth, while Rice has totaled 1,130 career kills.
Jamie Rutledge became the fifth Buccaneer in program history to record 3,000 career assists in ETSU’s five-set win over Georgia Tech back in September … Rutledge’s 3,328 career assists rank fourth in the Buccaneer record book.
ETSU recorded 11 double-doubles this season – Bethany Gesell (4), Ivey Rice (2), Rylee Milhorn (2), Kristen Favre (2) and Katie Muey (1) … In the eight matches ETSU registered a double-double, the Blue and Gold went 6-2 in those contests.
The Bucs are 14-4 this season when recording at least five service aces, while going 8-2 when registering at least 60 digs … ETSU went 13-6 this year when Meredith Hardy totaled double-digit kills … The Blue and Gold went 15-3 when winning the first set this season.
Coach Devine – ETSU’s all-time winngest coach with 204 victories – collected her 200th career win in the Bucs’ five-set win over Western Carolina on Nov. 4 inside Brooks Gym.
A LOOK AHEAD
The ETSU/Western Carolina winner faces the winner of Furman/TBD in Sunday’s semifinal match. Furman plays the winner of Wofford/The Citadel in Saturday’s quarterfinal match.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will be broadcast live on the SoCon Digital Network, while Monday’s championship match will be aired live on ESPN3. Every match will also feature live stats.
Fans can also follow in-game tweeting by following @ETSUVolleyball and @ETSUAthletics.
Click here to access the SoCon Volleyball Championship page.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the UNCG ticket office at (336) 334-3250. Below are the ticket prices for the SoCon Championship:
Youth (ages 6-12): $5/session
Groups (10+): $3/session
Students with valid SoCon ID: Free
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball page.