Women's Volleyball

Mustangs Start Season At San Francisco Tournament Labor Day Weekend

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!
Aug. 26, 2014

 SMU (0-0) at San Francisco (0-0)
 Date & Time  Friday, Aug. 29 at 8:30 p.m. CT
 Location  War Memorial Gym - San Francisco, Calif.
 Live Stats  Live Stats
 Live Video  Live Video
 Game Info  Tournament Notes (.pdf)
 Tickets  Tickets
 SMU vs. Georgia
 Date & Time  Saturday, Aug. 30 at 12:30 p.m. CT
 Location  War Memorial Gym - San Francisco, Calif.
 Live Stats  Live Stats
 Tickets  Tickets
 SMU vs. Fordham
 Date & Time  Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. CT
 Location  War Memorial Gym - San Francisco, Calif.
 Live Stats  Live Stats
 Tickets  Tickets
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 Twitter  @SMUMustangs   |   @SMUVolleyball

The Last Meeting
San Francisco3
September 13, 2013
San Diego, Calif.
Mustangs Suffer Loss To San Francisco In First Five-Set Match Of Season
SAN DIEGO (SMU) - The Mustangs built a 13-11 lead in the fifth set, but were unable slam the door, falling 15-13 to San Francisco in the fifth set, starting the Aztec Invitational with a 3-2 loss (25-21, 27-29, 27-25, 21-25, 15-13). Four Mustangs finished with at least 10 kills, but the Dons stole the spotlight with two players scoring 21 kills.

The Mustangs, who finished second in the American Athletic Conference last season and were voted as the preseason favorite this year, travel to San Francisco for the first weekend of competition Aug. 29 and 30. SMU will face host San Francisco Friday at 8:30 p.m. CT, and battle Georgia and Fordham Saturday.

SMU returns five all-conference selections, three first-team award winners, including conference Setter of the Year Avery Acker. The sophomore averaged 11.21 assists per set, finishing the year with 1,199, and was named AVCA All-America Honorable Mention. Caroline Young recorded 383 kills as a junior, with sophomores Abbey Bybel and Cailin Bula, and freshman Janelle Giordano each eclipsing 200 kills to earn all-conference accolades.

The Mustangs won 10 of their last 11 matches to go 22-9 overall, 14-4 in The American. One of the losses came to San Francisco in the first match of the San Diego State Invite, falling 3-2 to the Dons. SMU lost the third set 27-25, and after winning the fourth set, dropped a 15-13 deciding set in the first meeting between the two schools.

The Dons went 13-15 last season, with 10 matches going five sets. San Francisco returns three of its top four attackers from a year ago in Katarina Pilepic (307 kills), Valentina Zaloznik (304 kills) and Anja Segota (225 kills). The Dons will have to replace the starting setter and libero, but Segota was second on the team with 207 digs, and Kiara McKibben finished with 331 of the teams 1,290 assists.

SMU will be facing Georgia and Fordham for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs went 22-10 last year, finishing fifth in the SEC and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Two of Georgia's top four attackers, its top middle blocker, the libero and the second setter all graduated. Lauren Teknipp and Tirah Le'au are the top returning attackers, each scoring 280 kills last season, and Kaylee Kehoe led the team with 744 assists. All three are seniors this year.

Fordham went just 10-20 last season, but returns its top three attackers in Lisa Hipp, Brianna O'Neil and Brennan Delsing. However, the starting setter graduated with 808 of 1,197 assists, and two of the top three defensive players left after accounting for 629 of 1,443 digs. Hipp was second on the team with 257 digs.

Senior Caroline Young and junior Avery Acker were selected as captains by the vote of their teammates. The duo also served as captains last season, along with Maddie Lozano, who graduated in May. Under their leadership, the Mustangs went 22-9 and finished second in the American Athletic Conference with a 14-4 record during the league's inaugural season. Acker earned AVCA All-America Honorable Mention in her first season as the full-time starter at setter, and Young earned All-America honors after the 2012 season.

Avery Acker was named 2013 Setter of the Year in the American Athletic Conference, assisting on 1,199 of SMU's 1,526 kills. She averaged a league-best 11.56 assists per set against conference opponents, and averaged 11.21 overall. She recorded a career-high 57 assists in a four-set win against Davidson, and eclipsed 40 assists 13 times, including five matches with at least 50 assists. She set three hitters and a middle blocker who earned all-conference accolades.

Setter of the Year Avery Acker was joined on the All-American Athletic Conference First Team by Caroline Young and middle blocker Janelle Giordano. Outside hitters Cailin Bula and Abbey Bybel were named to the second team. Young finished second in the conference, averaging 3.51 kills per set against league opponents. Bula and Bybel were also in the top 15, averaging 2.86 and 2.68 respectively. Giordano was sixth in the league overall with a .308 hitting percentage during her freshmen campaign, and sixth in league matches with 1.19 blocks per set.

Morgan Heise
As a freshman, Morgan Heise ranked 10th overall in the American Athletic Conference with 3.62 digs per set. She posted a season-high 24 digs at Cincinnati, and finished with at least 15 digs in 13 matches, including a pair of three-set matches. She was named Best Libero at the SMU Doubletree Classic, tallying 37 digs in 10 sets. The Hempstead, Texas, native had just 16 serve-receive errors in 524 total attempts. She also had 111 assists.

After playing the 2013 season in the Dedman Center on campus due to renovations in Moody Coliseum, SMU returns for its first season in the updated facility. Improvements to the facility include expanded concourses, new event space, offices, team locker rooms and meeting space. The volleyball team also has a new locker room, as well as its own athletic training room. The Mustangs are 142-91 (.609) all-time at home, with a 10-2 record last season in the Dedman Center. In 17 seasons played in Moody Coliseum, SMU has a 132-89 record, including a 38-15 mark from 2009-2012.

Janelle Giordano was one of 12 players selected to the USA Volleyball Collegiate National Team for a tour of Europe July 8-19. The middle blocker was one of just two freshmen chosen to the squad. UCLA's coach Mike Sealy was the head coach of the team, which earned a silver medal at the Global Challenge tournament in Croatia. The team played matches in Slovenia, Italy and Croatia, and even competed against the Croatian National Team in an exhibition match before the Global Challenge.

For the first time in program history, SMU will have multiple All-America award winners competing together during the same season. Junior Avery Acker was selected as an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention after being named Setter of the Year in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. Senior Caroline Young was an honorable mention for the AVCA All-America award as a sophomore in 2012 after earning first-team all-region honors. SMU has had four players earn All-America accolades, all since 2009. Dana Powell and Kendra Kahanek were the first two players to earn the award, both in 2009, but Kahanek was a senior, so Powell was the only award winner on the 2010 squad. Powell is the only back-to-back All-American, earning the honor again in 2010.

With five all-conference award winners and the starting libero returning from a team that went 22-9 and finished second in the league last season, SMU was picked to win the American Athletic Conference this season, collecting nine of 11 first-place votes. UCF (second) and Tulane (third) also received a first-place vote from the league's coaches. Avery Acker, Caroline Young, Cailin Bula and Janelle Giordano were all voted to the all-preseason team.

East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa join the American Athletic Conference beginning in 2014. The league now has 11 members after the departure of Rutgers and 2013 volleyball champion Louisville. Each volleyball team will play 20 conference matches, facing each league school once at home and once on the road. The regular-season champion will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.



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