CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston volleyball (8-2) will welcome Alabama A&M (0-11), UNC Asheville (7-4), SMU (6-4) and Ball State (9-3) to TD Arena this weekend for the two-day CofC Holiday Inn Classic.
Friday, September 20
CofC vs. Alabama A&M, 2 p.m.
UNC Asheville vs. Ball State, 4:30 p.m.
CofC vs. SMU, 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 21
Alabama A&M vs. UNC Asheville, 10 a.m.
Ball State vs. SMU, 12 p.m.
CofC vs. UNC Asheville, 2 p.m.
SMU vs. Alabama A&M, 5 p.m.
CofC vs. Ball State, 7:30 p.m.
College of Charleston will look to rebound from a difficult trip out west where losses to Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount snapped CofC’s 8-0 start to the season. A win over Seattle last Friday morning gave the Cougars their eighth win of the season which tied the 2005 squad for best start ever. However, Charleston could not battle back against LBSU after falling behind 0-2, despite coming just points away from a fifth set.
Sloane White led Charleston with 29 kills and a .367 attack percentage in the three matches, while freshman Maddie Hills saw playing time and made six blocks, including five in a win over Seattle. White earned CofC Student-Athlete of Week honors for her efforts.
However, Charleston faced an uphill battle all weekend with serve receive errors and attacking errors. Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount combined for 17 aces, and the Cougars hit just .117 with 49 errors against 74 kills.
Despite the lower hitting numbers, Charleston still leads the CAA with a .263 season average which ranks in the top 50 in the nation. The Cougars are second in the league in assists per set (12.19) and are second in kills/set (13.11), just hundredths of a point behind Hofstra.
Cara Howley leads the team and is ranked second in the CAA with a .299 hitting percentage, while White is right behind her at .292. Darcy Dorton is hitting .255 and ranks fifth in the league in kills with 3.21 per set. Andi Zbojniewicz is currently eighth in the league with 3.12 digs per set.
COUGARS TO RAISE MONEY FOR RONALD McDONALD HOUSE
This weekend, College of Charleston volleyball will be accepting donations for the local Ronald McDonald House on Calhoun St. The local charity provides housing and meals for families with children in the adjacent hospitals. Head coach Jason Kepner will be leading the cause by wearing the signature red Ronald McDonald shoes during Friday night’s match against SMU. A marketing representative will be available on the concourse on Friday to take donations, along with a bake sale from ADPi.
All of the matches in the tournament will have free live stats presented under the Multimedia tab on CofCSports.com. The matches with College of Charleston will all have free live coverage on UStream, with links available on the Charleston schedule page.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Alabama A&M has yet to find the win column in 2013, although the Bulldogs did go to five sets with University of Alabama in Huntsville. AAMU has managed just a .119 attack percentage with 10.0 kills per set. Opponents average 2.5 aces/set against the Bulldogs and 1.9 blocks/set against AAMU. Friday will be CofC’s first time playing the Bulldogs.
UNC Asheville has played a number of familiar teams with wins over Western Carolina, Chattanooga and Mercer along with a 3-2 victory over Boston College on opening weekend. UNCA has also lost to CAA opponent UNCW. With a lower .203 hitting percentage, the Bulldogs average 12.3 kills per set with opponents digging a remarkable 19.0 digs/set off UNCA attacks. As a testament to long rallies, the Bulldogs also rack up digs with team leader Rachel Wells averaging 4.98 digs/set, ranking 41st in the country. CofC is 3-2 all-time against UNCA with the last win coming in 1999.
Southern Methodist heads east with a 6-4 record after dispatching CAA opponent Northeastern in five sets last Saturday. The Mustangs average 13.2 kills per set and hit at a clip of .234. SMU does not beat itself as they have only six ball-handling errors and average just 1.1 serve receive errors per set. Caroline Young leads the squad with 114 kills and a team-high 12 aces with a .251 hitting percentage. Maddie Lozano averages 1.05 blocks per set with a .291 hitting percentage. CofC and SMU have never met on the volleyball court prior to this weekend.
Ball State comes to Charleston on a six-match winning streak after sweeping IUPUI on Tuesday night at home. The Cardinals have wins over Iowa, Drake and UIC and took USF to five sets. Averaging 14.4 kills per set, Ball State is led by Alex Fuelling and her 3.87 kills. Catie Fredrich averages 4.0 digs per set which ranks 11th in the Mid-American conference. CofC won its only prior contest against Ball State back in 2007 with a 3-0 victory.
COFC IN PRESEASON TOURNAMENTS
During Jason Kepner’s seven-year tenure, the Cougars have had success in non-conference, “preseason” tournaments. The Cougars are 32-32 in these non-conference matches, many of which always include a handful of BCS conference opponents. Charleston has won at least one tournament championship trophy every season under Kepner.
However, there’s a marked distinction between tournaments at home or within driving distance, and those requiring a plane flight. CofC is 7-15 when flying versus a 25-17 record at home or in a tournament that allowed a bus trip.
CofC players will once again have a close connection to some of the teams playing in this weekend’s tournament. Dorton hails from Muncie, Ind., and grew up not far from Ball State University. Howley is a native of McKinney, Texas, which is not far from the campus of SMU. Senior Kerstin Koehler grew up near the campus of UNC Asheville, while head coach Fred Santos coached Koehler during her club days at Biltmore Volleyball Academy.