Sept. 11, 2013
The Mustangs return to the road for the Aztec Invitational, hosted by San Diego State, playing San Francisco Friday night and Harvard and Northeastern Saturday. SMU won all three matches of its home tournament to take the title, losing just one set all weekend. The Mustangs enter the Aztec Invitational with a 5-2 record. Harvard is 2-0 on the season, while Northeastern is 3-4 and San Francisco is 1-5 after the first two weeks of the season.
Maddie Lozano, who earned back-to-back all-tournament honors with the SMU Invitational MVP award, is hitting .291 with 52 kills in 22 sets. She also has a team-high 20 blocks. Caroline Young leads the team with 63 kills, and freshman Janelle Giordano has 50 kills with a .287 attack percentage. She recorded 10 blocks over the weekend for a season total of 18.
SMU has played Harvard once before, winning a neutral-site match 3-0 in 1999, but this will be the first meeting against both Northeastern and San Francisco. The Dons are 1-5 on the season, earning a 3-0 win over Air Force to snap a four-match losing streak before getting swept at home by Miami. Malina Terrell leads the team with 91 kills, and Valentina Zaloznik has 71 with a .358 attack percentage.
Harvard won its first two matches by a combined total of 13 points, needing five sets to beat Holy Cross and three straight 25-23 set wins after a 28-26 loss to knock off Hofstra. Kathleen Wallace leads the team with 20 kills in nine sets. As a team, Harvard is hitting .153, but is averaging 15.33 digs and 3.78 blocks per set.
Northeastern is 3-4 on the season after winning three of its last four, including a 3-2 winn at Connecticut. Kelly Bacon leads the team with 3.24 kills per set, and Natalia Skiba is averaging 6.48 digs per set.
SMU went 1-2 on its last trip to California, competing at Long Beach State in 2011. Long Beach State was ranked No. 22 at the time, and the Mustangs nearly knocked off Oregon State, falling in five set. SMU picked up a 3-1 win over Utah State to close out the tournament.
ON THE MARK
Three Mustangs rank in the top 10 of the American Athletic Conference in hitting percentage, led by sophomore Cailin Bula, who is sixth with a .300 attack percentage. Bula scored eight kills in two sets at Baylor, and has 36 on the season. Maddie Lozano is seventh, hitting .291 with 52 kills. Freshman Janelle Giordano ranks ninth in the league, posting 50 kills with a .287 attack percentage. As a team, the Mustangs are hitting .246, which is second in the conference, and SMU's 13.52 kills per set is also second in the league.
Sophomore setter Avery Acker is averaging 10.91 assists per set to rank third in the American Athletic Conference. She has 251 on the season, and recorded a career-high 57 in a four-set win against Davidson. She is currently in the top 50 in the NCAA in assists per set, and has51 digs, 15 kills and 11 blocks.
OFF THE BLOCK
The Mustangs are averaging 1.87 blocks per set, which ranks fifth in the American Athletic Conference, led by Maddie Lozano, who is seventh in the league with 20 blocks. Janelle Giordano is tied for 10th in the conference with 18 blocks, and Avery Acker and Caroline Young each have 11 blocks. SMU has 43.0 blocks on the season, including a season-high 10.0 at Texas State.
Maddie Lozano has the highest attack percentage among Mustangs with at least 100 attempts, scoring 52 kills in 108 attacks for a .291 clip, ranking seventh in the American Athletic Conference. She has a team-leading 20 blocks, pushing her total to 152 in just over a season on the Hilltop, and is closing in on the top 10 all-time at SMU.
Caroline Young leads the Mustangs in kills, 63, aces, eight, and points, 77.0. She is second on the team with 2.74 kills per set, and also has 19 digs and 11 blocks. As a sophomore, Young was named All-America honorable mention, and she is on pace to climb into the top 10 all-time in kills at SMU this season.
THE DIFFERENT JERSEY
While the Mustangs are averaging just 12.17 digs per set through the first seven matches this season, which includes five 3-set matches, Morgan Heise is averaging more than 25 percent of the team's digs. The freshman libero has 78 digs, averaging 3.39 per set. She posted at least 10 digs in four matches, including three of the last four, with a season-high 15 twice. She earned her first all-tournament award, taking home Best Libero honors at the SMU Invitational with 36 digs in 10 sets.
Abbey Bybel was fourth on the team in 2012, scoring 191 kills as a freshman, and her 2.22 kills per set ranked second on the squad. The middle blocker turned outside hitter scored 208.0 points in 86 sets, finishing the year with a .172 attack percentage. To start 2013, she is third on the team with 55 kills and is hitting .204. As a sophomore, she has 35 digs through seven matches, after recording 104 during her first season.
For the second straight season, the Mustangs had a freshman earn all-tournament honors on opening weekend. Kristen Stehling hit .255 with 22 kills at the Texas State Classic. Senior Maddie Lozano was also named to the all-tournament team after posting 10 kills and seven blocks in the final match of the weekend to finish with 23 kills and 14 block. Lozano picked up her second all-tournament honor after being named MVP of the SMU Invitational. Avery Acker recorded a career-high 57 assists against Davidson and Abbey Bybel scored 24 kills over the last two matches as the sophomores both earned their first all-tournament award. Morgan Heise was named Best Libero of the tournament.
YOUTH THEN EQUALS EXPERIENCE NOW
The Mustangs had six players, three sophomores and three freshmen, who each played at least 86 of 117 sets last season, and five started at least 10 matches. The six underclassmen combined for 885 of SMU's 1,489 kills and 1,051.5 of 1,898.5 points scored during the season. Caroline Young led the youthful charge, scoring a team-high 481.5 points as a sophomore. Freshman Abbey Bybel was fourth on the team with 208 points, and freshman Cailin Bula was fifth with 189.
START OF A NEW ERA
Joining the American Athletic Conference for its inaugural season, the SMU volleyball team is competing in its third conference since the program's inception in 1996. The American consists of 10 teams during its first season, highlighted by preseason favorite Louisville, a team that went 30-4 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. The league includes former BIG EAST members Temple (19-11), Connecticut (19-12), Rutgers (18-12), USF (17-15) and Cincinnati (12-20), as well as former Conference USA members Memphis (20-13), UCF (18-15) and Houston (9-19).
ALL-CONFERENCE PRESEASON TEAM
Caroline Young and Maddie Lozano were each selected to the All-American Athletic Conference Preseason Team, which consisted of 12 student-athletes from the league's 10 member institutions, as voted on by the coaches. Young was one of six unanimous selections to the team, and SMU was one of just three schools with multiple selections. Louisville led the team with four players, and UCF also had two honorees.
A TEMPORARY HOME
SMU will play its home matches in the Dedman Center on campus while the renovation project is completed on Moody Coliseum, the home of SMU volleyball and men's and women's basketball. The Dedman Center, located directly south of Moody Coliseum, serves as a multi-sport and recreational activity facility for SMU students and members of the community. The $47-million renovation project will be completed in time for SMU's December Commencement ceremony, and the Mustangs will return for the 2014 volleyball season.