Aug. 22, 2012
Dallas (SMU)The Mustangs open the 2012 season Friday at the Georgia Tech Invite, taking on Charleston Southern on Friday afternoon at 3:30 CT, before facing Cal State Fullerton and host Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Mustangs will have just three returning starters from last season's team, which saw four four-year starters graduate.
Senior Courtney Manning will lead the youthful team this season, which consist of just three seniors, including transfer setter Olivia Bailey. Manning, a first team All-C-USA selection last season, led the nation in blocks last season with a school-record 185 blocks, while Bailey was fifth in career assists at Loyola Marymount before returning home to Dallas for her senior season.
The 2012 roster of 13 players has eight freshmen and sophomores, including C-USA All-Freshmen selection Caroline Young, looking to improve upon last season's 15-17 record, which included a pair of wins over C-USA champion Tulsa.
Among the competition, Georgia Tech is the only other team with at least 15 wins, posting a 15-16 record last season to finish below .500 for the first time since 1990. The Yellow Jackets return four starters and the libero from last year's squad, including Monique Mead. As a junior, Mead lead Georgia Tech with 588 kills and was second with 300 digs. She also had a team high 92 blocks.
Cal State Fullerton went 13-16 last year, and returns three starters and the libero. Kayla Neto led the team as a junior with 442 kills and was second with 366 digs. Charleston Southern returns four starters and the libero from a team which posted a 5-25 record last season and won just one Big South Conference match.
SMU is 1-1 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, winning a five-set match in Atlanta in 2008. Cal State Fullerton knocked off the Mustangs 3-1 in 2005, and this is the first meeting with Charleston Southern.
Manning Chasing Career Records
Courtney Manning broke her own SMU single-season blocks record last season with an NCAA-high 185 total blocks. As a sophomore, Manning posted 162 blocks, breaking Natalie Peters' record of 151 set in 2005. Manning is third all-time in Conference USA for a season. The senior is third on the career chart at SMU with 474 total blocks, needing just 10 blocks to move into the top-10 in C-USA. Kendra Kahanek holds the school record with 530 blocks, and Stephanie Meinig set the conference mark with 593.
The Mustangs have led Conference USA in blocks in each of the last three seasons and four times in the past six years, and ranked no worse than third in digs in the past five season. SMU led the conference in digs in 2010, and was second in the league in 2007, 2009 and 2011. The Mustangs were 11th in the nation last season with 2.78 blocks per set, and 40th in digs per set with 17.05. Courtney Manning and Caroline Daly were each in the top-50 in the country in blocks, while Sidney Stewart was 60th with 4.88 digs per set.
Caroline Young became the first Mustang to be named to the C-USA All-Freshmen team since Dana Powell earned the honor in 2008. Powell went on to earn All-Conference USA accolades the next three years, and was twice selected as All-America Honorable Mention. Young finished her first season with 250 kills, hitting .241. She also had 43 digs and 59 blocks.
Courtney Manning was named First Team All-Conference USA and All-Midwest Region honorable mention after leading the nation with 185 blocks as a junior. She averaged 1.45 blocks per set, and led the team with a .307 attack percentage. The middle blocker was third on the team with 274 kills and had 79 digs. Manning earned second team All-Conference honors as a sophomore.
Seniors Courtney Manning, Susan Lewis and Olivia Bailey were elected by their teammates to serve as team captains. The trio mixes experience in the program with a fresh take from Bailey, who returns home to Dallas after three seasons at Loyola Marymount in California. Bailey ranks fifth all-time at LMU in assists with 2,340 in three seasons. Courtney Manning, a three-year starter for the Mustangs, has 475 career blocks, and broke her own single-season school-record with 185 blocks last season. She was named first team All-Conference USA, and garnered All-Midwest Region honors as well. Susan Lewis has played in 208 sets in 71 matches as a defensive specialist. She has 261 career digs and 17 assists.
2011 Block Party
Caroline Daly became just the fifth Mustang to have at least 150 total blocks in a season. The sophomore finished the year with 155 blocks, ranking third behind a pair of marks set by teammate Courtney Manning. Daly was 45th in the NCAA last season, averaging 1.21 blocks per set. She also had 86 kills, 29 digs and five assists.
After losing four seniors last season, and entering this season with just two returning seniors, the Mustangs added experience to the young roster with transfers Olivia Bailey and Maddie Lozano. Bailey climbed into the top-five at Loyola Marymount in assists with 2,340 in three years. The Dallas native returned home for her senior season, joined by Lozano, who brings PAC 12 experience to the SMU program. The 6-2 middle blocker played in 49 matches at Arizona over her first two seasons, with 72 blocks and 71 kills.