Nov. 26, 2013
The Last Meeting
October 25, 2013
Mustangs Win 3-1 Defensive Battle Against Houston
DALLAS (SMU) - Freshman Morgan Heise matched her season high, recording a match-high 18 digs, and Caroline Young matched her career high with six blocks as SMU outlasted Houston for a 3-1 (26-24, 25-21, 14-25, 25-13) win in a defensive slugfest. With the win, SMU gained a match on the Cougars at the midway point of the conference schedule, improving to 6-3 in the American Athletic Conference and 14-8 overall, while Houston fell to 5-4 in league play and 13-11 overall.
After securing a second-place finish in the American Athletic Conference with a pair of wins in Florida, the Mustangs conclude the regular season at Houston Wednesday at 5 p.m. SMU enters the contest with a 21-9 overall record, 13-4 in American matches, while the Cougars are 18-14, 10-7 American.
Caroline Young, who earned her league-best fourth American Athletic Conference Player of the Week award, leads the team and ranks fourth in the conference with 3.41 kills per set. Sophomore Avery Acker is 28th in the NCAA, averaging 11.16 assists per set, and freshman Morgan Heise is averaging 3.63 digs per set.
SMU has finished 13 of its 21 wins in just three sets, and the Mustangs have lost just one set in the last four matches. SMU has won at least 20 matches twice in the last four seasons, recording the 20th win this season at UCF. Young recorded the 1,000th kill of her career against the Knights, and with 1,161 assists, Acker is just the sixth player in program history with 1,000 assists in a season.
The Cougars enter the contest with an 18-14 record, 10-7 in The American, and are just 3-3 in their last six matches. Sarita Mikals leads the team with 3.24 kills per set, but Houston is hitting just .180 as a team. Natalie Keck is averaging 4.34 digs per set, and Sophie Paine is averaging 8.44 of Houston's 11.12 assists per set.
The Mustangs are 11-11 all-time against the Cougars, and have won five of the last six. SMU is 4-6 at Houston, splitting the last eight matches.
ON THE MARK
The Mustangs are second in the American Athletic Conference, hitting .239 as a team. In conference matches, SMU is hitting .245, which ranks second. Freshman Janelle Giordano leads the team and ranks sixth in the league, hitting .306. Junior Caroline Young leads the team with 3.41 kills per set and ranks eighth in the American with a .287 attack percentage.
Avery Acker is 28th in the NCAA and second in the American, averaging 11.16 assists per set in conference matches. She has 1,161 assists overall this season, becoming only the sixth player in program history with 1,000 assists in a season. Acker also became just the second player in SMU history to earn CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. The sophomore has a 3.95 GPA in business. She has finished with at least 50 assists in a match five times, including two American matches. Acker has a team-high 12 double-doubles, including eight conference matches, scoring a season-high 17 digs at Rutgers with 51 assists.
OFF THE BLOCK
The Mustangs are third in the American Athletic Conference with 2.40 blocks per set in league matches, and with Maddie Lozano and freshman Janelle Giordano ranking in the top 10. Lozano is fourth in the league overall with 1.14 blocks per set, and the senior is fourth with 1.20 per set in conference matches. She has 249 in just two seasons on the Hilltop, ranking 10th all-time at SMU. The senior needs 20 blocks to pass Dana Powell (268 from 2008-11) for ninth at SMU. Freshman Janelle Giordano is seventh in league play, averaging 1.18 per set, and has 109 total blocks. SMU has 262.0 blocks on the season, including a season-high 13.5 against San Francisco.
The Mustangs are second with 75 aces in conference matches, and rank fourth overall with 140. Two SMU players rank in the top 10 in the league, both overall and in American matches, led by Cailin Bula, who leads the league with 0.35 aces per set and has 29 for the season. Caroline Young is third, averaging 0.31, and she is second with 34 aces in 109 sets. Maddie Lozano is just outside the top 10 with 24 total aces, averaging 0.23 per set.
LEADING THE ATTACK
Caroline Young leads the Mustangs in kills, 372, aces, 34, and points, 441.5. She ranks fourth in the American with 3.41 kills per set, and is second the league with 3.50 per set in conference matches. Her 34 aces are second overall. The junior also has 162 digs, including a season-high 15 at Rutgers for her second of four double-doubles on the season, and 70 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. She eclipsed 1,000 in her career with 19 at UCF. She has earned four conference Player of the Week awards this season, more than any other player in the league.
THE DIFFERENT JERSEY
While the Mustangs are averaging just 13.45 digs per set this season, Morgan Heise is averaging more than 25 percent of the team's digs. The freshman libero has 396 digs, ranking 10th in the American with 3.63 per set. She has posted at least 10 digs in 25 matches, including 23 of the last 25, with a season-high 24 at Cincinnati. She has 229 digs in American matches. She earned Best Libero honors at the SMU Invitational with 36 digs in 10 sets.
The Mustangs have three freshmen in the regular rotation, with Janelle Giordano and Morgan Heise starting every match. Kristen Stehling has played in 24 matches with six starts, and has scored 104 kills as one of four players to see time as a left side hitter. She also has 47 digs and 18 blocks. Morgan Heise has played every set at libero for SMU this season, and ranks 10th in the American with 3.63 digs per set. Janelle Giordano has also started every match, splitting rotations with senior middle blocker Maddie Lozano. Giordano has 109 blocks, seventh in the league, and is sixth in the conference with a .306 attack percentage.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Mustangs went 10-2 at home this season, with a 7-2 mark in home conference matches. SMU won its last six straight at home, losing just one set, and swept eight matches in the Dedman Center 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.