Monday, October 31, 2011

A Look Ahead

by Jen Armson-Dyer

If you weren’t already convinced that this season women’s Division I season has no real clear frontrunner for the NCAA title, last weekend should have convinced you. All of the teams in the top five lost, and this week’s AVCA poll has seven different teams receiving first place votes. Here’s a look at some key matchups this week:

UCLA, USC Host Washington

Newly-minted No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 USC play host to No. 10 Washington on Friday and Saturday. Last weekend the Bruins claimed victories over Cal and Stanford while the Women of Troy split with the same teams, falling in three to the Cardinal before sweeping the Golden Bears. The Huskies defeated both Arizona and Arizona State. Links to listen and watch the UCLA/Washington contest on Friday at 7:00 p.m. PT can be found at A link to watch the USC/Washington match on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PT can be found at

The previous meeting this season between Washington and UCLA resulted in a three-game sweep by the Huskies on Sept. 17 in Seattle , while the last matchup between Washington and Southern California ended with a three-game Trojan victory on Sept. 16, which was Washington’s first loss of the season. UCLA and USC currently sit atop the Pac 12 standings while Washington is fifth behind Cal and Stanford.

UCLA (20-3, 13-2 Pac 12, 7-0 at home) is led by Rachael Kidder (#11) with 4.54 kills per set, Lainey Gera (#6) with 4.86 digs per set and Mariana Aquino (#12) with 1.03 blocks per set.

Southern California (18-4, 13-2 Pac 12, 6-1 at home) is led by Alex Jupiter (#8) with 4.38 kills per set and 0.48 aces per set, Natalie Hagglund (#3) with 5.25 digs per set and Lauren Williams (#8) with 0.79 blocks per set.

Washington (18-4, 10-4 Pac 12, 5-3 on the road) is led by Krista Vansant (#16) with 3.41 kills per set, Jenna Orlandini (#4) with 4.36 digs per set and Bianca Rowland (#15) with 1.67 blocks per set.

Illinois Heads To Purdue
After defeating Wisconsin and falling to No. 15 Minnesota, No. 5 Illinois continues its battle through the treacherous Big Ten season with a trip to No. 11 Purdue. The match will be on the Big Ten Network on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET, so you can be sure the black-clad student section in West Lafayette will be out in full force. A link to listen to the match can also be found at

The previous meeting between the two schools was a four-set Illini win on Oct. 1 in Champaign, Ill. Currently, Illinois sits second in the Big Ten while Purdue is fourth.

Illinois (21-2, 10-2 Big Ten, 7-1 on the road) is led by Michelle Bartsch (#6) and Colleen Ward (#4) with 3.96 and 3.61 kills per set, respectively, Jennifer Beltran (#3) with 3.96 digs per set and Anna Dorn (#5) with 1.31 blocks per set.

Purdue (20-3, 9-3 Big Ten, 11-1 at home) is led by Ariel Turner (#8) with 4.85 kills per set, Blair Bashen (#14) with 3.96 digs per set and Kierra Jones (#12) with 1.28 blocks per set.

Oklahoma Hosts Iowa State

Both squads will be looking to get back on track as No. 25 Oklahoma hosts No. 13 Iowa State on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. CT in a match that will be aired on ESPNU. Last weekend the Cyclones dropped a three-game match at Texas and the Sooners fell in three at Missouri.

The previous meeting between the schools was a four-game Iowa State win on Oct. 8 in Ames, Iowa. Texas sits atop the league standings while Iowa State is second and Oklahoma and Texas A&M are tied for third.

Iowa State (17-4, 8-2 Big 12, 8-2 on the road) is led by Carly Jenson (#1) with 3.75 kills per set and 3.28 digs per set, Kristen Hahn (#6) with 5.49 digs per set and Tenisha Matlock (#17) with 0.97 blocks per set.

Oklahoma (19-6, 6-3 Big 12, 13-0 at home) is led by Suzy Boulavsky (#2) with 3.28 kills per set, Maria Fernanda (#4) with 4.94 digs per set and Sallie McLaurin (#14) with 1.42 blocks per set.

Marquette Travels To Cincinnati, Louisville

Marquette takes to the road with implications for the regular-season Big East title on the line as it faces Cincinnati and Louisville on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. CT each day. A link to watch the Golden Eagles-Bearcats match on Saturday can be found at A link to watch the Golden Eagles-Cardinals match on Sunday can be found at

This will be the first meeting of the season between the schools. Marquette sits atop the Big East standings while Louisville is second and Cincinnati is third.

Marquette (20-6, 10-0 Big East, 9-3 on the road) is led by Ciara Jones (#1) and Ashley Beyer (#5) with 3.60 and 3.32 kills per set, respectively, Julie Jeziorowski (#6) with 5.08 digs per set and Danielle Carlson (#8) with 80 total blocks, good for 0.84 blocks per set.

Cincinnati (18-8, 8-2 Big East, 7-0 at home) is led by Missy Harpenau (#14) and Jordanne Scott (#8) with 3.43 and 3.17 kills per set, respectively, Emily Macintyre (#15) with 3.91 digs per set and Becca Refenes (#11) with 1.11 blocks per set.

Louisville (17-6, 9-1 Big East, 7-1 at home) is led by Lola Arslanbekova (#9) with 5.00 kills per set, Caitlin Welch (#1) with 4.22 digs per set and Tanya Lukyanenko (#11) with 1.14 blocks per set.

Western Michigan, Northern Illinois Host Ball State
The Cardinals take to the road for two important conference matchups. Ball State travels to Western Michigan on Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET before facing Northern Illinois on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. CT.

The previous meeting between Ball State and the two schools resulted in a 3-1 Cardinals win over Northern Illinois on Sept. 30 and a 3-1 win over Western Michigan on Oct. 1. Ball State sits atop the MAC West standings as Northern Illinois and Western Michigan are tied for second in the division.

Ball State (22-3, 11-1 MAC, 7-3 on the road) is led by Kara Bates (#1) with 3.09 kills per set, Catie Fredrich (#16) with 4.65 digs per set and Kelsey Brandl (#15) with 71 total blocks for 0.77 blocks per set.

Western Michigan (21-5, 10-2 MAC, 9-1 at home) is led by Jessica Brown (#14) with 3.13 kills per set, Lena Oliver (#1) with 5.92 digs per set and Ashley Turnage (#10) with 0.86 blocks per set.

Northern Illinois (21-5, 10-2 MAC, 9-3 at home) is led by Lauren Wicinski (#12) with 5.50 kills per set, Amber Walker (#2) with 3.86 digs per set and Mary Kurisch (#10) with 0.92 blocks per set. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Look Ahead – Oct. 24-30

by Jen Armson-Dyer

Nebraska Faces Road Tests At Ohio State, Penn State
Fresh off a huge win over then-No. 1 Illinois at home, the new No. 1 Huskers take to the road to battle No. 23 Ohio State and No. 8 Penn State on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29 in Columbus, Ohio (St. John Arena) and University Park, Pa., (Rec Hall) respectively. The Nebraska-Penn State match will be shown live on the Big Ten Network at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Huskers hold a 8-3 series advantage over Ohio State, including a 3-1 win earlier this year in Lincoln, Neb., while Nebraska leads Penn State 12-6 all-time, including claiming a five-set thriller to open the Big Ten season on Sept. 21. Nebraska leads the Big Ten standings at the half-way mark while Penn State sits third and Ohio State is tied for fifth with four other schools.

Nebraska (17-1, 10-0 Big Ten, 5-1 on the road) is led by Gina Mancuso (#7) with 3.64 kills per set, Lara Dykstra (#1) with 3.70 digs per set and Hayley Thramer (#17) with 1.36 blocks per set.

Ohio State (15-8, 5-5 Big Ten, 6-2 at home) is led by Mari Hole (#14) with 4.01 kills per set, Sarah Mignin (#7) with 4.57 digs per set and Kelli Barhorst (#2) with 1.10 blocks per set.

Penn State (15-5, 8-2 Big Ten, 9-2 at home) is led by Deja McClendon (#18) and Ariel Scott (#1) with 3.35 and 3.30 kills per set, respectively, Ali Longo (#23) with 2.78 digs per set and Katie Slay (#16) with 1.42 blocks per set.

Pac-12 Showdowns: Southern California & UCLA at California & Stanford
The Southern California schools travel to the Northern California battlefield  as the No. 4 Bruins face the No. 2 Golden Bears and the No. 4 Women of Troy face the No. 5 Cardinal on Friday. On Saturday, UCLA plays at Stanford and USC plays at Cal. All matches are slated for 7:00 p.m. PT, with the USC/Cal match being televised on FSN.

Earlier this year, Cal dropped both contests to USC and UCLA – the Golden Bears’ only losses of the year to date. Stanford also fell to both schools at the end of September. Currently, USC sits atop the Pac 12 standings with a 12-1 league record while Cal and UCLA are second with 11-2 conference records and Stanford is third with a 10-3 mark (with its other league loss at the hands of Cal).

California (21-2, 11-2 Pac 12, 14-0 at home) is led by Tarah Murrey (#4) with 4.18 kills per set, Robin Rostratter (#2) with 5.31 digs per set and Shannon Hawari (#7) with 1.28 blocks per set.

Stanford (16-3, 10-3 Pac 12, 10-0 at home) is led by Rachel Williams (#6) with 4.39 kills per set, Karissa Cook (#15) with 3.14 digs per set and Carly Wopat (#2) with 1.54 blocks per set.

Southern California (17-3, 12-1 Pac 12, 8-1 on the road) is led by Alex Jupiter (#7) with 4.31 kills per set, Natalie Hagglund (#3) with 5.32 digs per set and Lauren Williams (#8) with 0.82 blocks per set.

UCLA (18-3, 11-2 Pac 12, 7-3 on the road) is led by Rachael Kidder (#11) with 4.45 kills per set, Lainey Gera (#6) with 4.88 digs per set and Mariana Aquino (#12) with 1.10 blocks per set.

Minnesota Travels To Illinois
Back on its home turf, the No. 3 Fighting Illini play host to No. 15 Minnesota on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. CT (also hosting Wisconsin on Friday night). Links to watch and listen can be found on the Illinois website at Earlier this year, Illinois escaped Minneapolis with a five-set win to open conference play.

Illinois (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten, 9-0 at home) is led by Michelle Bartsch (#6) and Colleen Ward (#4) with 3.93 and 3.71 kills per set, respectively, Jennifer Beltran (#3) with 3.99 digs per set and Anna Dorn (#5) with 1.27 blocks per set.

Minnesota (12-7, 5-5 Big Ten, 5-3 on the road) is led by Ashley Wittman (#13) with 4.55 kills per set, Jessica Granquist (#2) with 4.61 digs per set and Ariana Filho (#11) with 0.97 blocks per set.

Iowa State Takes On Texas

In a battle for the lead in the Big 12, No. 14 Iowa State travels to No. 9 Texas on Friday at 8:00 p.m. CT. The match will be available on the Longhorn Network and also via audio on Texas’ website at Earlier this year, the Longhorns claimed a five-set win over the Cyclones in Ames on Oct. 2.

Texas (14-4, 7-1 Big 12, 9-0 at home) is led by Hayley Eckerman (#10) with 3.29 kills per set, Sydney Yogi (#15) with 3.42 digs per set and Rachael Adams (#5) with 1.23 blocks per set.

Iowa State (16-3, 7-1 Big 12, 8-2 on the road) is led by Carly Jenson (#1) with 3.80 kills per set and Kristen Hahn (#6) with 5.59 digs per set.

Tennessee Hosts Florida
Two more squads sitting atop their conference will face off on Friday when No. 13 Florida travels to No. 20 Tennessee. A link to watch will be on Tennessee’s website at and audio can be found on Florida’s website at Earlier this year Tennessee narrowly escaped Gainesville with the win (18-16 in the fifth) on Sept. 25.

Tennessee (18-3, 11-1 SEC, 7-0 at home) is led by Kelsey Robinson (#9) with 4.52 kills per set, Ellen Mullins (#10) with 3.83 digs per set and DeeDee Harrison (#8) with 1.08 blocks per set.

Florida (17-3, 10-1 SEC, 6-1 on the road) is led by Kristy Jaeckel (#6) with 3.57 kills per set, Taylor Unrow (#55) with 3.62 kills per set and Betsy Smith (#14) with 1.02 blocks per set.

West Coast Conference Showdown
No. 17 San Diego travels to No. 18 Pepperdine Monday night at 7:00 p.m. PT. A live broadcast of the match is available at This will be the first meeting of the season for the two squads.

San Diego (22-1, 7-1 WCC, 6-1 on the road) is led by Amber Tatsch (#7) with 3.38 kills per set, Kandiss Anderson (#10) with 4.12 digs per set and Katie Hoekman (#9) with 0.95 blocks per set.

Pepperdine (14-5, 8-0 WCC, 5-1 at home) is led by Kim Hill (#13) with 3.63 kills per set, Stevi Robinson (#10) with 3.34 digs per set and Samantha Cash (#16) with 1.19 blocks per set. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Interview Series: Part 4, with KU Assistant Coach Todd Chamberlain

by Jonathan Ketterer

For this week's blog, I figured I would shake things up a bit and feature a coach rather than a current player. This week's interviewee is the University of Kansas' Assistant Coach Todd Chamberlain. Todd, like myself and last week's interviewee Kelsey Dunaway, is a graduate of St. Martha grade school in Louisville. He attended Trinity High School and after being the volleyball team's MVP during his junior and senior years, went on to play at Ball State University. While at Ball State, Coach Chamberlain made the 1st Team All-MIVA as a senior while playing as an Outside Hitter, and earlier in his career, in 2006, he played on the Youth National Team which competed in a tournament in Brazil. Chamberlain's coaching career has seen great success as an assistant, helping teams to victory in the Indiana 2A-State Championship (Burris High School '08, '09) and in the AAU and JVDA National Championships (Munciana Samurai 18-1 Club '09). Todd also held a position as a volunteer assistant coach at Kentucky in 2009, when the Wildcats amassed a 29-5 record and a Sweet 16 appearance. In his second year at Kansas though, Chamberlain works with the outside attackers and recruiting, as well as being the team's video coordinator and alumni contact. I spoke with him yesterday afternoon for a bit, and take a look at what he had to say.

What was it like representing the U.S.?

I was just a freshman in college at the time, and we went to a tournament down in Brazil. It was a lot of fun, and it gave me lot of pride in our country, plus being able to play with other talented guys from America made it a great experience. You're used to playing for your team or your school, but being able to play for your country was something different, and it was a whole lot of fun.

If you could go back and change one thing about your playing career, what would it be?

I would've starting playing outside [hitter] at a younger age, because I started out at middle in club, and I didn't start playing outside until college.

Are you still able to play?

Not as much as I'd like, but I still get involved with adult tournaments whether it be grass, sand, or even indoor. But normally I'm pretty busy with recruiting so it's kind of hard to work playing into my schedule.

Speaking of recruiting, how has the transition been from strictly coaching to where you are now?

It's different, it's much more wide-range. We are watching players from Texas, Chicago, Nebraska, Kansas City, kids from all over the place, and it's a much broader scope definitely, because you have to know volleyball contacts in almost every city.

What are your aspirations for coaching?

I definitely want to be a head coach. I really want to be someone who makes the decisions and sees out the direction of the program. At what level that will be though, I really can't say quite yet, but we'll see how it plays out.

What do you enjoy most about being a coach?

I really like being in the gym everyday, and seeing the team come together and grow. When everyone is clicking and working as a unit, it gets very exciting.

What do you least enjoy about being a coach?

When the team doesn't quite accomplish the goals that they set out for. It's disheartening to not meet those goals, especially when the girls work and train so hard, then when we face a loss, it's just really tough.

A lot of our interviewees have had the opportunity of playing for young coaching staffs. What are your views on young versus older coaching staffs?

I think that having as much experience as possible is extremely valuable. Young coaches have a lot to learn and may not understand how to confront certain situations, and in those times, I think it's important to have composure, which experience brings. I know I'm guilty of it at times. I think it also depends of the level at which you're coaching, because at the college level, if a younger coach treats the players like mature adults, then their relationship with the team will likely be better, and little things in the locker room won't go unattended to.

Do you have any hopes of returning to the Bluegrass State (Kentucky) for coaching?

Maybe, but it's likely that won't be anytime soon. I mean it's home, I have family there, so it would be great, but I enjoy what I'm doing here at the same time.

What's it like going home to Louisville for recruiting?

Well, I know all of those schools in the area, so I go back whenever I get the chance. It helps having grown up there too, everything is so familiar. And of course whenever I get to see my family, it's always a good time.

To this point in your coaching career, who would you say has advocated your success the most?

I'd say there are a few, including the head coach here at Kansas, Ray Bechard. He's the one who gave me this shot at coaching college volleyball. Mike Lingerfelter, the club director for Munciana Volleyball, up in Muncie, Indiana, is another guy, and I worked with him a lot when I was college. Then Steve Shondell, who is now the head coach for the women's team at Ball State, I got to work with him in high school volleyball when I was in college.

It seems like success has followed you a lot in your career thus far, how is it dealing with failure and loss when you encounter it?

It's definitely tough, it magnifies everything. When you're winning, small issues with the team aren't that big of a deal, but it seems like when you're not, everything is a much bigger deal whether it be small disagreements or rough relationships amongst the players.

What are you looking forward to the most with the rest of the season?

I'm hoping that we can play the best volleyball we can down the stretch. We're always trying to get better and with the work we've been putting in, I really am looking forward to seeing how we progress.

Lastly, will you be attending the AVCA Convention in San Antonio this year?

Oh yeah! I've already got my registration, hotel, and flights all ready to go. It was a whole lot of fun last year in Kansas City, and I can't wait for it this year.

Coach Chamberlain and the Jayhawks will be in action tomorrow night as they host Texas Tech. I'd like to wish them good luck in that match as well as with the rest of the season. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Quick Preview of Upcoming Matches

by Jonathan Ketterer

Nebraska averages nearly 4,092 in attendance
and currently has a 7-game home win streak

First, let's preview what could be one of the biggest games of the season: #1 Illinois (19-0, 8-0) at #4 Nebraska (15-1, 8-0). The storied Nebraska program faces Iowa (11-10, 1-7) at home tonight, but on Saturday they will be playing host to the #1 team in their first ever head-to-head Big Ten battle. Nebraska is coming off of a five set win at #14 Minnesota (11-6, 4-4) and plans to thrive in their home environment for the next two games. If you'll recall Nebraska's Big Ten opener against Penn State, it took five sets for the Huskers to dispatch the Nittany Lions, and many will say that the crowd was rocking throughout the match, which is sure to be no different when the top-ranked Illini come to town this weekend. Illinois, however, is feeling quite strong themselves to say the least, riding their 19-game win streak that in the past few weeks has included wins over ranked foes Michigan, Purdue, Penn State, and Ohio State.

Stanford's Karissa Cook was named
AVCA National Player of the Week for her stellar
performances against Wash. and Wash. St.
Secondly, I'd like to look at a Pac-12 matchup that will be taking place this Friday night in Tucson, Arizona as the Arizona Wildcats (13-6, 5-5) welcome in the hot #5 Stanford Cardinal (14-3, 8-3). Stanford is cruising with a six-game winning streak that has included a road win over the #18 Oregon Ducks (12-6, 5-5) and a home sweep of then #2 Washington (15-3, 7-3). Arizona isn't playing too shabby either with three straight wins, one of which was a home upset over the then #2 UCLA Bruins (16-3, 9-2). The Wildcats are sitting one spot outside of the AVCA Coaches' Top 25, and surely could use a marquee victory like this to push them into the polls. This game will also be Arizona's first home game since that upset over UCLA, which hopefully will draw out a good crowd for what appears to be a crucial game for the Wildcats season.

From left to right: Scott, Grant, McClendon

Lastly, look for #9 Penn State (13-5, 6-2) to be challenged this week with two Big Ten matches against ranked teams in #21 Michigan (15-5, 3-5) and #23 Ohio State (14-7, 4-4). Tonight, the Buckeyes will be travelling to University Park, Pennsylvania with hopes of notching a solid conference win, but the Nittany Lions' strong hitters Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott are sure to thrive in the home environment where they have lost only once in conference play, having fallen to #1 Illinois back on October 8th. On Saturday, the Wolverines will get their turn, and they are aiming to turn around their season which saw a 4-game skid in conference play before they defeated Northwestern in five sets last weekend.

So as you keep your eyes on these games in the coming days, be sure to look out for the next installment of the Interview Series this Friday. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Look At The Weekend –Oct. 14-16

by Jen Armson-Dyer

California, Stanford Take Down Washington
It was a tough weekend for the second-ranked Huskies, who dropped contests to No. 4 California and No. 7 Stanford on the road. The Golden Bears claimed the win in four sets on Friday night (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 27-25) in front of 1,875 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. Senior outside hitter Tarah Murrey notched a double-double with a match-high 21 kills and 18 digs while freshman outside hitter Christina Higgins posted 13 kills, redshirt junior middle hitter Shannon Hawari chipped in 12 kills on .409 hitting (12-3-22) and junior Correy Johnson added in 11. Junior setter Elly Barrett dished out 55 assists while picking up 12 digs and junior libero Robin Rostratter led the match with 26 digs. Junior middle hitter Kat Brown led the blocking front with seven stuffs. For Washington, freshman outside hitter Summer Ross led the team with 14 kills. In the match, Cal recorded 14 more kills (63-49) and 23 more digs (94-71) as Washington claimed the blocking battle, 13.5 to 12.0. "I really thought our blocking and defense came on tonight," Cal head coach Rich Feller said. "Also, being able to adjust when we couldn't pass very well helped. We still weren't as good as we could have been on some of our defense but we can make some adjustments and be even better."

The following night, the Cardinal earned a sweep (25-19, 25-16, 25-23) in front of more than 4,200 fans at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams led Stanford with 15 kills as sophomore middle hitter Carly Wopat picked up 10 kills on .500 hitting (10-1-18). Three Stanford players reached double-digit digs, led by junior setter Karissa Cook with 13. Wopat and Cook also both topped the squad with four blocks. The Cardinals recorded more kills (46-29) and digs (59-40) while Washington picked up one more block (10.0-9.0). Freshman outside hitter Krista Vansant led Washington with nine kills and 11 digs. "I was disappointed in that we didn't play well in any facet of the game," said Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin. "Stanford deserves some credit for that, but we did not do anything at the level you need to beat a good team on the road. We've got to get to work and fix things."

Nebraska Survives Minnesota
The fifth-ranked Huskers moved to 8-0 in the Big Ten with a five-set victory (28-30, 19-25, 25-10, 25-12, 15-11) over the 14th-ranked Golden Gophers Saturday night in Minneapolis in front of 9,353 at Williams Arena, the fourth-largest crowd ever to witness a Gopher volleyball match. Nebraska emerged from the locker room between games two and three a different team, as evidenced by its hitting percentage. In the first two sets, the Huskers hit a combined .133 (28-16-90) and in the final three sets they attacked at a .367 clip (34-5-79) and also held Minnesota to a combined -.167 percentage in that time (24-25-68). Junior outside hitter Gina Mancuso led three Nebraska players in double-digit kills with 18 as both sophomore opposite Morgan Broekhuis and junior outside hitter Hannah Werth chipped in 15 kills. Freshman libero Lara Dykstra led four players in double-digit digs with 23 as junior setter Lauren Cook put up a double-double with 45 assists and 19 digs. Senior middle hitter Brooke Delano dominated the net with 12 blocks as Werth added in six. For the match, Nebraska outblocked Minnesota 17.0 to 8.0. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Wittman led the Gophers with 22 kills. "I told them before that this was going to be our toughest test," Nebraska head coach John Cook told the Lincoln Journal Star. "I thought we found a way to hang in there and try to win game one, and we just didn't capitalize. It's indescribable as a coach when you see your team, that you've been training and working so hard on throwing clipboards and threatening to throw them out of practice, to see them come together and play together. I don't know what else you can ask for as a coach."

Georgia Tech Upsets Miami
The Yellow Jackets captured a four-set victory over the No. 23 Hurricanes (11-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21) Sunday in Coral Gables, Fla. Sophomore setter Kaleigh Colson led Georgia Tech with a triple double of 12 kills on .800 hitting (12-0-15), 34 assists and 11 digs, and also added in four service aces. It marks the first triple-double since the 2006 season for the Yellow Jackets. Junior opposite Monique Mead led all players with 19 kills as junior libero Nicki Meyer also added in 11 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Quinn Evans led the blocking list with four stuffs. Senior outside hitter Lane Carico led Miami with 14 kills. “I thought it was a great, gutsy performance by our kids,” said Georgia Tech head coach Tonya Johnson, who picked up her 50th win as a Yellow Jacket. “To lose the first set 11-25 and then to come back and play with some determination like we did in sets two, three and four speaks volumes about the character of this team.”

Mississippi State Takes Out Kentucky In Front Of Record Crowd
The Bulldogs swept the 25th-ranked Wildcats (25-23, 25-18, 25-19) Friday night in Starkville, Miss., in front of 4,535 fans, the largest crowd in Mississippi State history, and also the largest crowd to ever watch a collegiate volleyball match. It was Mississippi State’s second win against Kentucky in 42 matches. Senior outside hitter Caitlin Rance led the Bulldogs with 14 kills as junior opposite Faith Steinwedell posted 11 and senior middle hitter Hannah Wilkinson chipped in seven kills on an errorless 15 swings to hit .467. Sophomore setter Paris Perret dished out 34 assists and junior libero Hillary Parker picked up a match-high 17 digs. Wilkinson led the blocking front with five stuffs as Mississippi State outblocked Kentucky 9.0 to 5.0 for the match. Ashley Frazier led Kentucky with 15 kills. “I am so very proud of our players,” said Mississippi State head coach Jenny Hazelwood. “We executed our game plan well tonight and the team seemed very comfortable playing in front of a huge supportive crowd.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Interview Series: Part 3, with Xavier's Kelsey Dunaway

Welcome back to the Friday blog, where this week I will be sharing with you all another interview, this time with Xavier Musketeer outside hitter Kelsey Dunaway. Kelsey is a sophomore from Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, Kentucky. In high school, Kelsey was named to the all-district team three times, as well as being named to the All-Region, All-State, and All-State Tournament teams during her senior year. In both 2007 and 2009, she was picked for AAU All-American squads while playing for the Mid-America Volleyball Association, where she was instrumental to the team's excellent play in the '07, '08, and '09 seasons.Another interesting note about Kelsey is that in 2006 she graduated with Lipscomb middle blocker Sarah Ulinski and I from St. Martha grade school in Louisville. Enough with the background information though, take a look at how she responded to some of my questions.

How's the season going so far?

It's going great, We have won all of our games in conference except for one, against [George Washington]. We're looking really good, and we're running a new system, and I think we can win the A-10 and get a shot at the NCAA Tournament.

What do you attribute the team's struggles on the road to?

It hurts not having the fan support and having other fans scream at you. It also is kind of rough not having any friends or family there. And this weekend we play at Dayton, so that should be a pretty tough environment.

Does the travel bother you all?

It's not that bad, but it mainly comes down to falling behind in our classes. It's stressful mentally, especially at the beginning of the season when it felt like we were missing every Thursday and Friday class for a whole month.

Speaking of travel, have you gotten to go anywhere exciting?

We got to go to Michigan and then Maryland was pretty fun. Houston was pretty cool too, until we got one of our vans robbed while we were at breakfast.

How was it getting to play former teammate Ashley Potts at WKU?

It was so much fun playing Ashley, it's so awesome when you get to play people you knew in high school, and with Ashley it was great considering our MAVA (Mid-America Volleyball Association) vs. KIVA (Kentucky-Indiana Volleyball Academy) rivalry and that we played at Sacred Heart together.

What would you say is your favorite/least favorite part about being a student-athlete?

My favorite part would have to be being on a team. I love all of my teammates; we hang out together, we go out together, and we play together. Plus all of our coaches are fairly young, so I feel like that does a lot for our team chemistry. One just graduated from college, one is two years out, and then our head coach isn't even 30 yet. So I feel like we have a different relationship with them than most players have with their coaches.

My least favorite part would have to be missing so much school that I have to do make up work for and then having to miss social life on the weekends.

What made you choose Xavier for college?

I chose Xavier because I liked all of the girls on the team. At first, I wasn't sold on the small campus feel, but when I came back and spent a night with the team, I loved it. It was great to know that these girls are just like me, they were so nice and so much fun, and I really felt welcome.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years from now I'd like to be teaching the first grade and coaching a club team in either Cincinnati or Louisville.

What made you want to major in childhood education?

I really love children, and I wanted to help them and be a big part of someone's life. I feel like giving children the foundation for their education is a big thing, and I want to be a part of that.

What would you say to young girls who have aspirations to play in college?

I would tell them to keep working hard, and to make sure they love it. You also need to make sure you're having fun with it, and especially when you're young, because that's when it's the most fun.

What has been the highlight of the season so far?

I think the way we have dealt with adversity has been excellent. It's almost like any player on the team can play any position and you have a good feeling they will perform well. It's awesome to see how versatile our team has become in the past year, especially with the injuries that have occurred.

What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of the season?

What I'm most looking forward to would have to be beating everyone on the rest of our schedule, and having the chance to win the A-10 and go to the tournament, which hopefully we can go really far in.

Kelsey and the Xavier Musketeers will face in-state and conference rival Dayton tonight in Dayton, Ohio. I would like to wish Kelsey and her team the best of luck with tonight's big game and for the rest of the season, and special thanks to Kelsey and her sports information director Jessica Souto for making this interview possible. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Volleyball and the Presidential Reform Agenda

Part 2: The proposed changes and their impact on volleyball – the full cost of attendance debate 

by Kathy DeBoer

The summer’s presidential retreat spawned four subgroups designated to work on particular areas of reform: the student-athlete well-being working group, the resource allocation working group, the committee on academic performance and the rules working group. 

The group doing the most ground-shifting work is the first one.  To answer the criticism that none of the new money going into intercollegiate athletics is directly benefiting the student-athletes who are producing the increases, proposals are being studied to allow a full scholarship to include $2000 beyond the cost of room, board, tuition, fees and books.  Even the non-mathematicians among us can do the calculation on what that increase will entail if it is spread across the athletics department. The target groups for more aid, of course, are football and men’s basketball players as the rights fee producers, but Title IX will likely mean that a number of women’s sports will be included in the increase.  An institution which funds 250 total grants-in-aid will see a $500,000 increase in their scholarship budget if they include all their sports in the new ceiling. 

It is anticipated that the BCS automatic qualifier schools, currently those in the Big 10, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Big East and Pac 12, will be able to afford the $2000 increase through rights fees escalation and controlling other costs.  The frightening prospect for volleyball lovers is that those schools on the financial fringes of either an elite conference or DI generally, will choose to shed sports in an attempt to stay in the mix with their high profile programs.   

The driver is football, and more specifically, football television money which, unlike the NCAA men’s basketball payout, is not broadly shared throughout Division I and the NCAA. The recent round of conference realignments is fueled by calculations on campuses about the best path to stay in a healthy BCS grouping of schools.  The conferences viewed as safe havens are the Big 10, the Pac 12, the SEC and the ACC.  The Big 12 and the Big East have lost key football-playing schools and are both scrambling to regain their footing.  The desire to align with or to stay aligned with the major football programs is trumping all other considerations including protecting traditional rivalries, geographic proximity, and the repercussions for other sports.      

Those conferences without escalating rights fees or large football stadiums will, in all likelihood, be structurally relegated to second tier status in Division I since they will not be able to fund the $2000 increase.  They may also choose to tier their sports within the conference, providing full cost-of-attendance to some and not others. 

A consistently used catchphrase in this debate is ‘competitive equity’; one side argues that the move to add $2000 to full grants-in-aid is destroying it, while the other side argues that, even though all schools have had the same scholarship limit for years, equity on the playing field has been a myth for a long time. The ‘myth’ group cites as evidence that, over the last seven years, 90% of Division I championships have been won by teams from BCS conferences.  The ‘myth-buster’ group can name every upset of the last seven years and is vigilantly opposed to institutionalizing the disparities between schools in DI.    

The impact on volleyball of this change is hard to predict at the moment.  Currently only Hawaii appears in our top-ten poll as a representative from outside the BCS AQ group, but Northern Iowa, San Diego and Pepperdine in the top 20 make an argument that funding is not the final determinant of elite play.
It seems as if a two-tiered scholarship structure will make a difference in recruit’s choices so the question becomes will the schools in conferences where volleyball is an important sport make the choice to upgrade those programs to full cost of attendance.  How will these changes impact our 22 men’s programs? Will there be cuts or will institutions with diminished prospects for success in major sports be incentivized to try to make a mark on the national scene in volleyball?
This working group is also considering proposing multi-year grants-in-aid, and eliminating the six year restriction on five years of aid.  Neither of these provisions will have much impact on volleyball.
Next week we will explore the proposals coming from the resource allocation working group.