Oct. 31, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. -
Western Carolina volleyball concludes a four-match road swing beginning Thursday at rival Appalachian State before traveling to Statesboro, Ga., to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles.
The road to the SoCon Tournament is still shaky with four conference matches left in the season. UNCG and Elon both have 7-5 conference records with Samford sitting atop the North with a 10-2 record. Chattanooga and WCU both have a 4-8 record with Appalachian State holding a 2-10 SoCon record. With only four spots available in the tournament for the North, the stakes are still very high for the last four matches of the 2012 regular season.
WCU still has Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Chattanooga and Samford. Chattanooga, who holds the same record as the Catamounts, have UNCG, Elon, Western Carolina and Appalachian State left on the slate.
Western Carolina has not played well on the road this season - a 1-5 conference road record - and plays its last two road matches this weekend before returning home to play Chattanooga and Samford. WCU beat the Mocs on the road earlier in the season to pick up its only conference road win. The Catamounts are 3-3 at home in SoCon games in 2012.
Live stats and video are available for both matches through Appalachian State's and Georgia Southern's athletic websites.
- Scouting Appalachian State -
The first time around this season, Western Carolina defeated its mountain rival in five sets, 3-2. Since that defeat, App has gone 1-6, all of which were conference matches - since the loss in Cullowhee. ASU's win came over The Citadel at home on Oct. 20 in four sets. Appalachian is 6-20 overall with a 2-10 record in the SoCon. Both SoCon wins have been at home this season with the other win coming against Elon, 3-1.
Last week the Mountaineers were dropped by Elon and UNCG on the road with the Phoenix sweeping the Apps and UNCG winning 3-1.
The Mountaineers rank in the top-100 nationally in digs per set. App State is 83rd in digs (16.1). Additionally, Courtney Rhein ranks 43rd in the nation in digs per set (5.18). In Southern Conference rankings, ASU leads the conference in blocks per set with 2.09.
Most of ASU's offense comes from Dalton Tolliver (254 kills), Lindsey Sauls (244 kills) and Jacqui Spurgeon (201 kills). As a team, the Mountaineers hit at a .147 clip while allowing opponents to have a .214 hitting percentage against them. Paige Brown (456 assists) and Lauren Brown (423 assists) distribute the offense.
On defense, Courtney Rhein averages 5.18 digs per set. Appalachian has three over 60 total blocks for the year. Jessica Eley leads the way with 79 blocks. Dalton Tolliver is second with 73 while Lauren Gray has 64.
Historically, the Mountaineers lead Western 47-29 with WCU picking up a match in the series with its previous win this season on Oct. 4. In that match, five Catamounts with at least four blocks, while sophomore middle blocker Addy George and freshman Nicole Ford each had 10 and nine blocks apiece, respectively. WCU picked up 18 total blocks on the night, the most for the Purple and Gold since 2007, when the Catamounts also had 18 total blocks. In the match, Tina Nazario and Jordan Timmermann each added four blocks with senior Abbey Scroggins totaling five. Appalachian State finished with 15 blocks as Dalton Tolliver tallied nine. The 33 combined blocks between the two teams is the most for WCU and its opponent since at least 2001.
-Scouting Georgia Southern-
Georgia Southern - the team with the best record in the Southern Conference - begins its final homestand of the season against the Catamounts Saturday at 7 p.m. at Hanner Fieldhouse. Georgia Southern is 20-6 for the season with a 11-1 SoCon record. The only GSU conference loss this season came against College of Charleston on Sept. 29. Since that date, the Eagles have won eight straight, being undefeated in October.
This week defensive specialist Alexandra Beecher was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Week. It is the second time that Beecher has earned the honor this season. The freshman averaged 6.29 digs per set for the Eagles last week. She posted 23 digs and added six assists in GSU's 3-1 win at College of Charleston, which vaulted the Eagles into first place in the South Division.
Georgia Southern has received a SoCon weekly award five times this season. Beecher was named Freshman of the Week as well with Meredith Paskert being named Offensive Player of the Week and Kate Van Dyke earning Student-Athlete of the Week honors.
Paskert leads the Eagle offense with 336 kills, averaging 3.39 kills per set with a .268 hitting percentage. Megan Gravley and Kris Harris lead the Phoenix in kills with 273 and 203, respectively. Gravley averages 3.03 k/s. Just behind Paskert is Moriah Bellissimo who has 257 kills while Enjoli Johnson is third in kills with 122. Johnson leads the team in hitting percentage (min. 10 kills) with her .333 average.
Defensively, Alexandra Beecher leads with 459 digs, averaging 4.64 per set. Both Moriah Bellissimo and Kate Van Dyke are essentially even for the next spot with 277 and 273 digs, respectively.
As a team, Georgia Southern is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.252), second in opponent hitting percentage (.169) and second in service aces (1.32).
Saturday's match up will be the only one of the season for the two SoCon rivals. Georgia Southern won the match a season ago, 3-1, and owns a 22-18 record over Western Carolina all-time.