Oct. 26, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. -
Western Carolina volleyball begins a four-match road swing beginning this weekend against UNCG and Elon this weekend in a key SoCon North Division battle.
The SoCon North standings are a jumble right now with five teams staring at the two through four spots for the SoCon Tournament Nov. 17-19 with Samford sitting comfortably in first place in the division with an 8-2 conference record. UNCG and Elon are both 5-5 in league play with Chattanooga and the Catamounts each having 4-6 records in the SoCon.
UNCG and Elon are two teams who have been heading in opposite directions over the last two weeks with the Spartans having lost three of its last four matches while the Phoenix have won three of its last four.
The Catamounts have struggled of late, as WCU has dropped four of its last five matches. Western Carolina split last weekend at home in the Ramsey Center defeating The Citadel to pick up its first Friday win of the season, but dropped a close 3-1 match with the College of Charleston.
With most of the North Division records in a jumble, WCU still controls its own destiny as to making the SoCon Tournament in consecutive years for the first time since the 2005-2006 seasons. The Catamounts still face every team that sits in front of them between now and the SoCon Tournament in the last three weekends of regular season play, but will have to play away from the Ramsey Center in four out of the last six matches. In 2012, WCU is a mere 1-8 in true away matches, but boasts a 6-4 record in Cullowhee.
- Scouting UNCG -
Furman went 3-0 last week - all against SoCon opponents - with a trio of seniors (Chandler Ambrester, Natalie Braun and Caroline Adams) combining for 111 kills, 77 digs, and 17 blocks against Wofford, College of Charleston and The Citadel. The win against CofC snapped the Cougars' 21-match home SoCon win streak. The Paladins are 15-5 overall, with a 4-2 SoCon record
UNCG is led offensively by two main attackers in Karrian Chambers and Olivia Humphries. Chambers leads the offense with 285 kills, averaging 3.48 kills per set. Humphries is just behind Chambers with 272 kills, averaging 3.02 kills per set. Humphries hits at a .230 percentage. Ambrester, a senior outside hitter, was named SoCon Offensive Player of the Week last week. Ambrester recorded 44 kills and only 10 errors to average 4.40 kills per set (.330 attack percentage). She recorded double-digit kills in all three matches, including a 15 kill/18 dig performance in Furman's 3-1 win at College of Charleston. Humphries was named the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week this past week for her efforts against Furman and Wofford. The junior posted 41 kills in eights sets, averaging 5.12 k/s. She hit .306 against Furman and .414 Wofford while turning her fifth double-double of the season against Furman.
Freshman outside hitter Lauren Betlach has been solid for the Spartans, sitting third on the team in kills with 54, averaging 2.57 k/s. Betlach was named SoCon Freshman of the Week back in September.
Defensively, UNCG averages 18.35 digs per set, led by Kellie Orewiler who averages 5.38 d/s. Katherine Santiago and Karrian Chambers both average over three digs per set, with Santiago totaling 3.70 d/s and Chambers 3.19 d/s. Morgan Freeman leads the team in blocks with 35 total (0.90 b/s).
WCU downed UNCG on Sept. 29 on a night when Leah Butler's perfect 5-for-5 third set energized the Catamounts to pick up the sweep, winning 25-19, 25-22, 27-25. Addy George (10 kills) and Caitlin Piechota (14 kills) each tallied double-digit kills.
Elon will be hosting WCU in its last home match of the season making it Senior Night for the Phoenix Saturday. The Phoenix will be saying goodbye to five seniors in Ali Deatsch, Celia Rose Eddy, Allison Johnson, Carly Ledbetter and Alli Noqi. The seniors have helped Elon to a 75-49 record over the past four seniors, including the program's most wins in a season (23) in 2009 and its first SoCon North Division title in 2010.
Megan Gravley and Kris Harris lead the Phoenix in kills with 273 and 203, respectively. Gravley averages 3.03 k/s.
Defensively, Deatsch leads the way with 363 total digs, averaging 3.95 d/s. Harris and Eddy both total 70 blocks as Eddy averages 0.91 b/s while Harris averages 0.83 b/s.
Elon swept the Catamounts the first time around in Cullowhee. Two of the three sets were decided by less than three points. Gravley led the Phoenix in the first match with 16 kills and 13 digs.