|November 13, 2019||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 12, 2019) – ETSU’s volleyball team concludes its 2019 campaign with matches in Brooks Gym this week. On Wednesday, the Blue and Gold will host the Western Carolina Catamounts in a big Southern Conference showdown at 6 p.m.
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EDUCATION NIGHT: Wednesday night is education night in Brooks Gym as ETSU invites all students and former ETSU volleyball campers to come out for the match against the Catamounts.
LAST TIME OUT: Last weekend, the Blue and Gold won two four-set matches with victories over Wofford and The Citadel. Sara Esposito (Venezia, Italy) finished the weekend with a .409 hitting percentage between the two matches.
On Friday, the Bucs took the season series over The Citadel with a 3-1 victory in Charleston. ETSU was led by Esposito’s .545 hitting percentage. Freshman outside hitter, Lauren Hatch (Homewood, Ill.) matched Esposito’s total with 13 kills. Two other players also totaled more than 10 kills in the match for the Blue and Gold. As a team, the Bucs hit .333 led by a .483 clip in the third frame.
On Saturday against Wofford, the Blue and Gold took the four setter behind 13 service aces from the squad. The 13 aces are the most for the Bucs since 2015 and Olivia Cunningham’s (Knoxville, Tenn.) five aces were the most for a freshman since 2014. Cunningham led the match in Spartanburg with 17 kills.
ETSU vs. Western Carolina: This will be the 78th meeting all-time. ETSU leads the series 43-40. The Blue and Gold have swept the last three matches over WCU dating back to 2018.
A LOOK AT ETSU: The Bucs are one of two SoCon teams with just one defeat in conference play (Samford) and are one of 18 NCAA Division I teams with 22 or more wins this season. ETSU currently leads the SoCon in hitting percentage (.238) and assists (12.26/set). The Bucs are second in the league in four categories: kills (13.14/set) and blocks (2.13/set), opp. hitting percentage (.178) and aces (1.68/set).
Individually, Kaela Massey (Brentwood, Tenn.) is second in the conference with a .344 hitting percentage and
she sits 92nd in the nation. Marija Popovic (Belgrade, Serbia) is second in the SoCon with 4.26 digs per set behind Western Carolina’s Megan Sanchez. Cunningham is second with 0.42 aces per set in the conference and closes out the top-50 in the nation. Her 3.55 hitting percentage puts her fifth in the league and is atop the freshman class. Hatch has stepped up big in league play and averages 3.63 kills per set in ETSU’s 14 SoCon matches which is good for fourth in the conference, also best among freshman.
ETSU has played eight five-set matches this season and are 5-3 in those contests. Their three loses came to UAB, Coastal Carolina and Furman. Most recently, the Bucs defeated Chattanooga in a five setter on Nov. 2 in Brooks Gym. ETSU is 7-0 in four-set matches this season and is the only team in the conference to not lose a match in four frames this season.
The Bucs are coming off a regular-season conference championship and the first-ever NCAA at-large bid in SoCon’s history. ETSU is returning six players overall and welcomes seven freshmen to the squad. Last season, ETSU finished 28-7 overall and 15-1 in conference action. In addition to seven freshmen, the Blue and Gold welcome a new coaching staff featuring a new head coach in Benavia Jenkins and assistants Giovanny Delevry and Andrew Pile.
CHASING MILESTONES: Popovic, the reigning two-time SoCon Libero of the Year, is set to hit a mark only four Bucs in the program history have it in their career. With six digs in Wednesday’s match, the junior standout will reach the milestone of 1,500 in her career.
A LOOK AT WESTERN CAROLINA: Western Carolina is 17-10 overall and 11-3 in the conference which puts them at third in the standings. Last weekend, the Catamounts suffered a three-set loss to Wofford before getting a four-set victory over The Citadel on Saturday. Western is led by Abigail Veit and Merry Gebel in the front who have a combined 694 kills. In the back row, Meagan Sanchez has been dominant averaging 5.41 digs/set to lead the conference.
EARLIER THIS SEASON: Last time the two teams faced, ETSU swept the Catamounts in Cullowhee. No players for WCU logged 10 kills while the Bucs had four with that total or more. ETSU was led by Sara Esposito who hit .571 with 13 kills. Marija Popovic tallied 22 digs as libero to lead the match by a wide margin. WCU did not get more than 20 points in any of the three sets.
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