Sept. 25, 2013
SMU starts its first season of competition in the American Athletic Conference on the road Friday against Connecticut and Sunday at Rutgers. The Mustangs finished the non-conference slate with an 8-5 record, winning three of the last four matches, and rank second in the league in hitting percentage, .233, and third in kills per set, 13.22.
Caroline Young leads the team with 162 kills, ranking seventh in the American with 3.31 per set. She picked up SMU's first Player of the Week award with 48 kills in 11 set to lead the Mustangs to a 2-1 record at the College of Charleston Classic, the last tournament before the start of conference play. Middle blockers Maddie Lozano and freshman Janelle Giordano both rank in the top 10 of the league in hitting percentage, with Giordano at fourth hitting .289 and Lozano sixth at .284.
Connecticut comes into the first matchup between the two schools with an 8-6 record, winning five of its last seven, led by Karson Ratliff, who is averaging 3.06 kills per set with a .262 attack percentage. The Huskies are two spots behind the Mustangs, ranking fourth in the league with a .209 attack percentage, and lead the conference with 88 aces.
Rutgers is 4-10 on the year, playing just one match at home entering league play. Alex Lassa has a team-high 212 kills, ranking third in the conference with 3.66 kills per set. As a team, the Scarlet Knights are ninth in the American in hitting percentage, .140, assists, 10.42 per set, and kills, 11.15 per set, but are third in blocks with 2.23 per set. This is also the first meeting between Rutgers and SMU.
ON THE MARK
Middle blockers Maddie Lozano and Janelle Giordano both rank in the top 10 in the American Athletic Conference in hitting percentage. Giordano, a freshman, is fourth, hitting .289 with 190 kills. Senior Maddie Lozano ranks sixth in the league, posting 215 kills with a .284 attack percentage. As a team, the Mustangs are hitting .233, which is second in the conference, and SMU's 13.22 kills per set is third in the league.
Avery Acker is averaging 10.70 assists per set to rank third in the American Athletic Conference. She has 471 on the season, and recorded a career-high 57 in a four-set win against Davidson. She 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 100 digs, 26 kills and 23 blocks.
OFF THE BLOCK
The Mustangs are averaging 2.05 blocks per set, which ranks fifth in the American Athletic Conference, led by Maddie Lozano, who is fifth in the league with 51 blocks, and ranks third with 1.06 per set. Janelle Giordano is seventh in the conference with 38 blocks, and Avery Acker and Caroline Young each have over 20 blocks. SMU has 100.5 blocks on the season, including a season-high 13.5 against San Francisco.
Maddie Lozano is second on the team in attack percentage among Mustangs with at least 100 attempts, .284, and tied for second in kills, 107. She is in the top 10 in the American Athletic Conference in both hitting percentage and blocks per set, with 51 blocks. Lozano has 183 in just her second season on the Hilltop, and is closing in on the top 10 all-time at SMU. She needs 31 to pass Kelly Larkan (214, 2001-05).
Caroline Young leads the Mustangs in kills, 162, aces, 16, and points, 192. She is seventh in the American with 3.31 kills per set, and has 63 digs and 27 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 12.67 digs per set through the first 13 matches this season, which includes six 3-set matches, Morgan Heise is averaging more than 25 percent of the team's digs. The freshman libero has 166 digs, ranking 10th in the American with 3.39 per set. She posted at least 10 digs in nine matches, including seven of the last eight, with a season-high 18 at College of Charleston. 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 tied for second on the team with 107 kills and is hitting .174. As a sophomore, she has 78 digs through 13 matches, after recording 104 during her first season.
In four tournaments, the Mustangs had six players, including two freshmen, earn nine all-tournament awards. Avery Acker, Caroline Young and Maddie Lozano each earned two selections, while Lozano picked up SMU's lone MVP honor.
TEXAS STATE CLASSIC
Maddie Lozano, Kristen Stehling
Maddie Lozano (MVP), Morgan Heise (Best Libero), Avery Acker, Abbey Bybel
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON CLASSIC
Avery Acker, Caroline Young
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Caroline Young was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week after scoring 48 kills in 11 sets to lead SMU to a 2-1 record at the College of Charleston Classic. The junior averaged 4.36 kills per set, climbing to seventh in the league with 3.31 per set overall. Young led the team in all three matches, including a weekend-high 19 kills against the College of Charleston. She has recorded at least 10 kills in six straight matches this season.
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.