Sept. 26, 2012
SMU begins a four match road trip at Rice on Friday at 7 p.m., and the Mustangs face Houston on Sunday at 1 p.m. After going 1-2 in the first week of Conference USA action, the Mustangs are looking to hand the Owls their first conference loss, with Rice bringing a 3-0 C-USA record into the match, 10-7 overall. Houston has a 2-11 record overall, 1-2 in C-USA.
Nancy Cole leads Rice and is eighth in C-USA with 3.27 kills per set. Laurie McNamara and Jillian Humphrey also have over 100 kills for the Owls, who have won their last five straight matches. Head coach Genny Volpe was an assistant on SMU head coach Lisa Seifert's staff when the SMU program began in 1996.
Houston head coach Kaddie Platt earned her 500th career win earlier this season, but the Cougars have just two wins overall after the first week of Conference USA competition. Katie Norris leads the team with 3.63 kills per set, ranking seventh in C-USA, but the Cougars are allowing a league-high .256 opponent hitting percentage.
SMU is just 10-21 all-time against Rice, but the Mustangs have won three of the last five in the series. Against Houston, SMU is 9-10 all-time, winning six of the last seven.
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 second on the career chart at SMU with 510 total blocks, and ranks sixth in C-USA. Kendra Kahanek holds the school record with 530 blocks, and Stephanie Meinig set the conference mark with 593.
MANNING GETS OFFENSIVE
Courtney Manning has made a name for herself as a blocking beast, but the senior middle blocker is also a tremendous threat on the offensive side, as well. She has had at least eight kills in the last four matches, including a career-high 16 kills against Arkansas-Little Rock. She is tied for second in Conference USA with a .345 hitting percentage overall, and fourth in conference matches, hitting .421.
Four Mustangs have combined for seven double-doubles this season, led by Olivia Bailey's four. Bailey scored 39 assists with 14 digs against Army and 31 assists and 20 digs in a 3-2 win over Arkansas-Little Rock. She finished with 31 assists and 18 digs at Tulsa, and added a season-high 51 assists and 13 digs against Marshall. Carla Armstrong accomplished the first double-double of the season for the Mustangs, scoring 10 kills with 10 digs against Cal State Fullerton for the first of her career. Freshman Avery Acker posted her first double-double with 26 assists and 11 digs against Oklahoma, and Caroline Young scored 23 kills and 18 digs against Army for the first double-double of her career.
SETTING THE TABLE
Senior transfer Olivia Bailey is fifth in Conference USA, averaging 9.15 assists per set, and is averaging 9.83 assists per set in C-USA matches. She has at least 25 assists in every match she has played in except one, including a season-high 51 against Marshall. She is also third on the team with 110 digs and has 19 blocks.
Sophomore Caroline Young has been SMU's most dominant and consistent offensive threat this season, scoring at least 10 kills in nine matches, including three of the last four. She posted at least 20 kills three times, including a career high 23 against Army. She also had a career-high 18 digs against the Black Knights for her first double-double. Young is second in Conference USA with 24 aces, leading the league with 0.44 aces per set. In C-USA matches, she has a league-leading eight aces, averaging a league-high 0.67 aces per set. She is also third on the team with 24 blocks.
Freshman Abbey Bybel has inserted herself into the SMU offensive attack. The 6-0 middle blocker has at least five kills in the last seven matches she has played in, including a season-high 15 in the 3-2 win against Arkansas-Little Rock. She hit .400 against Texas State, scoring five kills, including the first kill of her collegiate career, with just one error in 10 attempts. She also has seven blocks and 34 digs.
TRANSFER TAKING CHARGE
Junior transfer Maddie Lozano is leading the Mustangs with 57 blocks, ranking fifth in Conference USA with 1.04 blocks per set. Making the feat even more impressive, two-time single-season record setter Courtney Manning is still posting blocks, recording 42 this season. Lozano has had at least four blocks in eight matches, including three of the last four, and scored a season-high six blocks three times. She also posted a season-high 12 kills against ECU and has had nine kills in three matches.
LEWIS DIGS DEFENSE
Senior Susan Lewis won the starting libero position after three different players saw action in the different colored jersey early in the season. In five of the last six matches, Lewis has recorded at least 10 digs, including a career-high 29 against Arkansas-Little Rock, which is the fifth most in a match by a C-USA player this season. She has climbed into the top-15 in C-USA overall with 3.25 digs per set, and ranks eight in the league in conference matches, averaging 3.58 digs per set.