Nov. 10, 2008
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The USC Upstate volleyball team will try to get a head of steam heading into its season-ending Mr. Gatti's Provisional Invitational next weekend as it hosts its final Atlantic Sun Conference matches this weekend. The Spartans will host travel partner East Tennessee State University on Tuesday, looking to sweep the season series with ETSU after posting a 3-2 win in Johnson City, Tenn., to open the conference season on Sept. 9. The Spartans will then close the season out on Saturday when Campbell comes to the Hodge Center for the first time since 1999. The then-Lady Rifles won that match, 3-2, in a dramatic five-set match that saw three sets go extra points.
Home Court Advantage: Upstate heads into its final weekend of regular season play on the cusp of reaching a historic milestone for the Hodge Center. In 33 seasons, the Spartans have posted a 297-97 (.754) in the building, leaving them just three wins from reaching 300 in the building. All three Spartan teams (men's and women's basketball and volleyball) that play in the Hodge have had similar success in the gym, as the teams have a combined record of 839-392 (.681). The 1,535-seat gym has seen three volleyball squads finish with a perfect home slate. The women's basketball team has had two perfect campaigns in the Hodge and the men's basketball team has posted four perfect regular-season slates.
Growing Up Fast
The battle between ETSU and USC Upstate will also be a battle between two of the youngest lineups in the A-Sun. ETSU features six freshman, all of whom have appeared in 42 sets this season. Meanwhile, the three Upstate freshman have had an immediate impact as well, with all three appearing in at least 89 of the team's 99 sets. Jane Hawryliw is averaging 0.93 kills per set and also adds 1.51 digs per set. The Sasketchewan native posted a match-high 14 kills in Upstate's 3-0 win over Hampton on Sept. 5. Morgan Thomas, a middle blocker, is averaging 1.57 kills and a team-high 0.67 blocks per set. Thomas has twice posted six blocks in a match this season, including against the league-leading Florida Gulf Coast. Kelsie Queen is averaging 1.88 kills and 0.90 digs per set. Queen posted three straight 15-kill matches from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25. No other teams in the A-Sun besides ETSU and Upstate feature three freshmen who have played in more than 50 percent of its teams sets.
Upstate's trio of rookies currently are amongst freshmen leaders in several A-Sun categories. Kelsie Queen is third amongst A-Sun freshmen in kills per set, averaging 1.88 per set. Morgan Thomas is tied for the freshmen lead in sets played (98) and is currently third in blocks (0.67) and sixth in kills (1.57). Jane Hawryliw is second among conference freshman in service aces (0.36).
A Thousand Helping Hands
Senior Holly Mauldin became the first player in the USC Upstate volleyball team's Division I era to reach 1,000 assists on Saturday afternoon against Belmont. Mauldin, who has posted 1,004 assists at the Division I level and is currently sixth in school history with 1,840 career assists, notched 18 assists and eight digs to lead the Spartans. She is the first player since Upstate moved to Division I in 2007 to reach the 1,000-assist mark and also has a Division-I-era best 16 career double-doubles.
Mauldin is also just three service aces away from reaching 100 in her career, a mark reached by just 17 others in school history.
Breaking The Streak
Junior Morgan Bucciferro broke senior Holly Mauldin's 17-match streak where she led the Spartans in assists on Nov. 7 against Lipscomb. The Spartan setters were part of a 6-2 system, which head coach Jennifer Calloway switched to in late October, allowing Bucciferro to post 19 assists while Mauldin notched 16 and added 15 digs in the four-set match. Bucciferro started the season by leading the team in assists in six of the first eight matches before Mauldin became the starting setter in a 5-1 system.
The pair of setters have left indelible marks in the Upstate record book, with Mauldin sixth in career assists and Bucciferro not far behind, in seventh with 1,699 helpers.
The Race For 500
Sophomore Sandra Campbell and senior Jovana Lubura are both on pace to reach Upstate's 500-career kill club by the end of the season. The only question is which one will become the first player in the DI era to reach the mark. Campbell is currently ahead by 17 kills, as she enters the week with 484. Lubura, with 467, has caught up since the start of the A-Sun season, as the 6-2 Serbian is averaging 3.01 kills per set while Campbell averages 2.46. The two players could join just 28 others in Upstate's 500-kill club.
In back-to-back weeks, the Spartans were able to reach Division I milestones. Sophomore Sandra Campbell became the first player in Upstate's Division I era to post back-to-back 50-block seasons thanks to three rejections at North Florida on Nov. 1. Sophomore Megan Healey joined Campbell in the DI superlatives this week, as she become the first player in the Spartans' DI era to record back-to-back 250-dig seasons with her second dig against Lipscomb on Nov. 7.
Dig For The Cure
Thanks to a five-set match that featured 72 USC Upstate kills, 77 digs and 67 assists against Stetson on Oct. 24 at the Hodge Center, the USC Upstate volleyball team was able to raise $1,123.80 for the Upstate South Carolina affiliate of Susan G. Komen For The Cure, an organization that is dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. For the special match, Upstate brought in a special Breast Cancer Awareness Ford Mustang from corporate partner Vic Bailey Automotive Group. Pink ribbons and other breast cancer awareness packets were donated by Komen For The Cure and handed out. Inside the gym, the Spartans wore pink jerseys and several wore pink headbands during the match.