Phoenix Opens 2013 Horizon League Championship on Friday
By: Ryan Hartwig (@GBHartwig)
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The fourth-seeded Green Bay volleyball team (14-13, 9-5 HL) opens the 2013 Horizon League Championship on Friday, taking on fifth-seeded Youngstown State (15-14, 7-7 HL) in quarterfinal action at 4:30 p.m. CT at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee. It will be the second straight meeting between the two teams, as the Phoenix defeated the Penguins 3-0 in its regular season finale last Saturday.
Fans unable to make the trip to Milwaukee this weekend can follow all the 2013 Horizon League Championship matches with free live video on the Horizon League Network, as well as with live stats. Links to Green Bay’s matches can be found on the volleyball schedule page on GreenBayPhoenix.com. The official Green Bay volleyball Twitter (@GBPhoenixVB) and Facebook (Green Bay Phoenix Volleyball) accounts will also be posting live updates throughout the weekend.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The six teams in the 2013 Horizon League Championship are playing for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Three wins this weekend would give Green Bay its second NCAA berth in school history, and first in a decade (2003).
The winner of Friday’s match between Green Bay and YSU will advance to face either top-seeded Milwaukee or second-seeded Valparaiso in the semifinals on Saturday, depending on who wins the No. 3 Oakland versus No. 6 Cleveland State contest (Friday at 7 p.m.). The host Panthers will play the lowest remaining seed on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., while the Crusaders will take on the highest seed at 7 p.m. at the Klotsche Center. The title match is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
HorizonLeague.com: Field Set for Volleyball Championship
Green Bay and Youngstown State split their two regular season meetings, with the road team winning both times. The Penguins first defeated the Phoenix 3-1 at the Kress Center on Oct. 18, and Green Bay avenged the loss with a 3-0 win at the Beeghly Center less than a week ago (Nov. 16). Freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) has a combined 28 kills against YSU this season, averaging an even four per set.
CAREER NIGHTS LIFT PHOENIX OVER VIKINGS
Green Bay defeated Cleveland State 3-2 in its penultimate match of the regular season last Friday thanks to several career performances. Senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) crushed a career-high 22 kills, sophomore Jillian Bauer (Verona, Wis.) registered a career-best 36 digs and sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) had her first career double-double with 11 kills and a personal best 10 blocks. Sophomore setter Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) also had an excellent match, posting 58 assists, seven digs and four blocks.
STRONG TO THE FINISH
First-year head coach Michaela Franklin’s squad won six of its final eight regular season matches – the best eight-match stretch to end a regular season in school history. Green Bay’s nine conference victories (9-5) tied the Phoenix for third place in the standings and represent the second most league wins in program history, trailing only the 2003 team’s 10-win season (10-4).
UNPRECEDENTED HORIZON LEAGUE HONORS
Four Phoenix players received postseason Horizon League honors last week, as Jillian Bauer, Emily Riese and Leah Van Zeeland were named to the 14-member all-league team, and Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) was selected as the conference’s Freshman of the Year.
It marked the first time that Green Bay had four individuals honored in a single season, and just the second time in school history (2003) that the Phoenix landed three players on the all-league team. In addition, Hurley became the school’s first-ever freshman/newcomer of the year winner.
The 2013 regular season came to an end with a trio of all-conference individuals leading the league in their respective statistical categories. Shannon Hurley is tops in the league in both kills (331) and kills per set (3.34), Jillian Bauer is first in digs (539) and digs per set (5.08), and Emily Riese leads all players with 1,131 assists.
SCOUTING THE PENGUINS
Fifth-seeded Youngstown State enters the 2013 Horizon League Championship having lost four of its last five matches, including each of its final two. YSU is the top blocking team in the conference (2.73 per set), led by Defensive Player of the Year Jenna Cavanaugh, a senior who is tops in the league at 1.47 per set.
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