Sept. 18, 2013
After three five-set matches on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego, Calif., the Mustangs will compete on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean this weekend at the College of Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C. SMU will face the host Cougars Friday at 6 p.m. CT, with matches against Ball State and Alabama A&M on Saturday.
The Mustangs are 6-4 on the season, led by junior Caroline Young, who has 114 kills on the season and earned her first all-tournament award of the season at the Aztec Invitational. Senior Maddie Lozano has 80 kills, is fifth in the American Athletic Conference with a .291 attack percentage, and is fourth in the league with 39 blocks. Sophomore Abbey Bybel is averaging 2.58 kills per set, and has 62 digs, while freshman libero Morgan Heise has a team-high 123 digs.
The Cougars are 8-2 entering their home tournament. Darcy Dorton leads the team with 106 kills, hitting .255. Four players are hitting over .290 with at least 40 attempts. This will be the first meeting between SMU and College of Charleston.
Ball State is 9-3 and enters the tournament on a six-match winning streak, with sweeps in the last three. Alex Fuelling leads the Cardinals with 147 kills and has 121 digs. Catie Fredrich has a team-high 182 digs, averaging 4.33 of the team's 15.57 per set. The Cardinals are scoring 14.36 kills per set, and nearly two blocks per set. SMU played at Ball State in 2005, losing 3-0.
Alabama A&M is 0-11 this season, winning just three sets in two matches. Kyanna Sales leads the team with 87 kills, and Ashley Forman has a team-high 92 digs. This is the first meeting between the Mustangs and the Lady Bulldogs.
ON THE MARK
Middle blockers Maddie Lozano and Janelle Giordano both rank in the top 10 in the American Athletic Conference in hitting percentage. Lozano, a senior, is fifth, hitting .291 with 80 kills. Freshman Janelle Giordano ranks sixth in the league, posting 76 kills with a .287 attack percentage. As a team, the Mustangs are hitting .234, which is second in the conference, and SMU's 13.24 kills per set is third in the league.
Avery Acker is averaging 10.79 assists per set to rank third in the American Athletic Conference. She has 356 on the season, and recorded a career-high 57 in a four-set win against Davidson, and has posted at least 50 assists in three matches this season. The sophomore also leads the team with four double-doubles, including a 55-assist and season-high 15-dig performance against San Francisco. She is currently in the top 50 in the NCAA in assists per set, and has 78 digs, 21 kills and 18 blocks.
OFF THE BLOCK
The Mustangs are averaging 2.04 blocks per set, which ranks fourth in the American Athletic Conference, led by Maddie Lozano, who is fourth in the league with 39 blocks. Janelle Giordano is seventh in the conference with 33 blocks, and Avery Acker and Caroline Young each have 18 blocks. SMU has 77.5 blocks on the season, including a season-high 13.5 against San Francisco.
Maddie Lozano has the highest attack percentage among Mustangs with at least 100 attempts, scoring 80 kills in 158 attacks for a .291 clip, ranking fifth in the American Athletic Conference. She has a team-leading 39 blocks, pushing her total to 171 in just over a season on the Hilltop, and is closing in on the top 10 all-time at SMU, needing only 43 to pass Kelly Larkan (214 from 2001-05).
Caroline Young leads the Mustangs in kills, 114, aces, 12, and points, 135.5. She is just outside the top 10 in the American with 3.00 kills per set, and has 46 digs and 18 blocks. As a sophomore, Young earned 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 12.58 digs per set through the first 10 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 123 digs, averaging 3.24 per set. She posted at least 10 digs in seven matches, including the last five straight, with a season-high 16 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 second on the team with 93 kills and is hitting .194. As a sophomore, she has 62 digs through 10 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. Caroline Young earned all-tournament honors at the Aztec Invitational, scoring 51 kills in three matches with 27 digs.
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).
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.
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.