Sept. 17, 2009
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy volleyball team will spend its last weekend prior to the start of the Patriot League season in Elon, N.C., as the Midshipmen take part in the Phoenix Volleyball Classic on the Elon campus.
Navy will open competition in the tournament Friday at 4:30 p.m. with a match against Georgia State. Then on Saturday, the Mids will play Norfolk State at 10 a.m. before facing the tournament-host Phoenix later that evening at 7 p.m.
Live statistics from all of the matches being contested at the tournament can be found at: http://org.elon.edu/athletics/stats/livestats/vb/xlive.htm(.)
Following play this weekend Navy will open its Patriot League season with matches September 25 at Lehigh and the following day at Lafayette.
"It is hard to believe just how quickly we have arrived at the start of league play," said Navy head coach Mike Schwob. "That makes this weekend all the more important in the development of our team. A lot of that development includes confidence. We have to keep improving each time we take to the floor. We are going to be tested this weekend, but that is the only way we will get better."
After posting a 1-2 record at last weekend's DSU Hornet Invitational, the Mids travel south this week with a 2-8 record on the year. Garnering all-tournament honors for Navy last week was Maida Kalic' (So., Vernon, N.Y.). The middle blocker averaged 1.60 kills per set and hit .333 during Navy's three matches against UMES, Norfolk State and Delaware State.
"Maida showed last weekend how effective of a player she can become," said Schwob. "It is up to everyone on the team to help get her the ball more."
Navy entered last weekend having committed 48 more service errors than service aces on the young year. The Mids were a much more controlled serving team throughout the tournament in Dover as Navy posted an equal number of errors to aces in each of the three matches.
"We handled the serve, both our serving and our serve receive, much better last weekend than we did over the opening few matches of the season," said Schwob. "There is still room for improvement, but we feel much better about it now than we did at this time last week."
Georgia State has posted an 8-3 record this season. Included among the three losses for the Panthers was a defeat to Michigan State. One of the keys to the successful start to the year for the team has been its serving ability. With 97 aces to their credit, the Panthers have more than doubled the amount of aces they have allowed (45). Additionally, Georgia State's offense has tallied a hitting percentage of .228 while holding the opposition to a mark of .153. Individually, Ashley Jones not only leads Georgia State in kills with an average of 3.03 kills per set, she also ranks second on the squad with both 3.61 assists and 1.64 digs per set.
Friday's match will be the first between the Mids and the Panthers.
After entering this season without having played Norfolk State before, the Mids will face the Spartans Saturday for the second time in one week. The Mids emerged from the inaugural meeting between the teams with a 25-12, 26-24, 25-19 victory last Saturday in Dover. Navy held statistical advantages over Norfolk State in kills (38-27), hitting percentage (.308-.105), service aces (9-4) and blocks (9-3). Pacing the Navy offense were Abbie Merkl (Sr., Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Carolyn Ewert (Fr., Bakersfield, Calif.) with 10 and 9 kills, respectively. Merkl also dropped in three service aces and tallied four blocks in the match. On the other side of the net, Norfolk State's Charlotte Armstead had a great match against Navy as she tallied 10 kills and just one error on 17 swings for an attack percentage of .529.
Elon prepares to play host to its tournament with an unblemished record of 10-0 this season. The Phoenix have not only not lost a match this year, they have lost only five sets (in four matches) this year. That's not to say the matches have been lopsided; of the 35 sets played by the Phoenix this year, 23 have been decided by five points or less. Elon has compiled a 19-4 record in those close sets.
The two biggest statistical advantages Elon has enjoyed over its foes this year have been in hitting percentage and blocks, which go hand-in-hand with the other. The Phoenix have posted a .239 hitting percentage while holding opponents to a mark of .109 and hold a 73-49 advantage in blocks (2.1-1.4 bps). The other main statistics -- kills, assists, aces, digs -- are all pretty equal when comparing Elon to its opponents.
Five different players are averaging multiple kills per set this year for Elon, with Traci Stewart's mark of 2.83 leading the squad.
Saturday's match between the Mids and the Phoenix will be the second meeting in the series. Elon pulled out a five-set victory over the Mids in 2006.