GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay volleyball team (3-4) is set for its third tournament in as many weekends, heading to Brookings, S.D., for the South Dakota State Jackrabbit Invitational at Frost Arena. The Phoenix will take on the host Jackrabbits on Friday at 7 p.m. before wrapping up the three-team tourney against Bradley on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Fans can follow the Jackrabbit Invitational with live stats and live video on GreenBayPhoenix.com. Phoenix Access subscribers (12-month, 4-month, 1-month) can watch Green Bay's matches for no additional charge, and stats will be available at the start of each contest. Non-Phoenix Access subscribers can purchase both Green Bay matches for one price ($4.99). The official Green Bay volleyball Twitter (@GBPhoenixVB) and Facebook (Green Bay Phoenix Volleyball) accounts will also be posting live updates throughout the tournament.
Friday, September 7
7 p.m. - Green Bay vs. South Dakota State [Live Stats | Live Video]
Saturday, September 8
1 p.m. - Green Bay vs. Bradley [Live Stats | Live Video]
7 p.m. - South Dakota State vs. Bradley [Live Stats | Live Video]
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
South Dakota State (6-2) has won four straight matches, sweeping its three contests at the Gonzaga Tournament last weekend in Spokane, Wash., before knocking off North Dakota 3-0 in its home opener on Tuesday. SDSU middle Kelli Fiegen recently picked up Summit League Defensive Player of the Week honors after a strong weekend out west in which she recorded 23 total blocks and earned tournament MVP. Friday will mark the fourth meeting between the Phoenix and the Jackrabbits, with Green Bay holding a 2-1 edge in the all-time series. The last meeting came on Sept. 5, 2010 when the Phoenix picked up a 3-2 victory on a neutral court in Ames, Iowa.
Bradley (5-2) started the season with five consecutive wins, but has since dropped two straight. The Braves picked up the tournament title at the season-opening North Carolina Central Invitational in Durham, N.C., before posting a 2-1 record at the Milwaukee Panther Invite last weekend. The Braves most recently fell to Saint Louis 3-1 in their home opener on Tuesday. Green Bay and Bradley have not met since 2000 when the Braves swept the Phoenix 3-0. Bradley has controlled the all-time series with the Phoenix, owning a 5-0 record.
LAST TIME OUT
Green Bay is coming off a strong showing at the UND Classic last weekend, posting a 2-1 record with wins over Stephen F. Austin and South Dakota. Senior Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.) earned all-tournament honors after corralling 61 digs, while junior Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.) had a career weekend on the outside that included a 22-kill effort against SFA.
Phoenix head coach Debbie Kirch joined host Ryan Hartwig on Wednesday for this week's episode of Match Point. The two recapped Green Bay's successful trip to North Dakota, talked about some standout individual performances and previewed the upcoming Jackrabbit Invitational. To watch this week's show, click here.
The Phoenix has demonstrated strong defensive play to start the 2012 campaign, leading the Horizon League in two of the major statistical categories. Green Bay is tops in blocks (2.12) and digs (18.54) per set, registering 51 total blocks and 445 digs in 24 sets played.
Groth currently leads all Horizon League players with 5.96 per set. Her league-best 143 digs in 24 sets played is 14 ahead of Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Taylor Root from Valpo, who has 129 in 27 sets (4.78). The senior registered 61 digs in the UND Classic over the weekend and was named to the all-tournament team, and earlier this year broke Green Bay's record for digs in a three-set match (29, Aug. 25 vs. Auburn). For her efforts, she was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in her career on Aug. 27.
Groth now has 1,314 career digs, good for fifth on Green Bay's all-time list, and will need 476 more to pass Megan Elfering (2005-08) as the school's career leader. As a junior in 2011 she set the school record for digs in a season with 659 - 82 more than Elfering's 577 in 2008 - and her 5.78 digs per set average ranked ninth among all NCAA Division I players.
Zabkowicz knocked home a career-high 22 kills in Green Bay's 3-2 win over Stephen F. Austin in the opening match of the UND Classic last Friday. The total broke her previous career-best of 18, which she achieved her freshman season in a contest at Milwaukee. The junior leads the Phoenix with 78 kills - a figure that ranks fifth among Horizon League players.
Senior Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.) is in the top 10 in the Horizon League in two categories, ranking fifth (.324) in hitting percentage and eighth (0.79) in blocks per set. She recorded the league's top individual hitting percentage effort against Auburn (Aug. 25) when she hit .545, registering 13 kills on 22 swings. With nine so far in 2012, Leitermann has moved into second on Green Bay's all-time solo blocks list with 85 (97, Marie Kaland, 1992-95), and also ranks eighth on the school's total blocks list (292).
Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.) has recorded five straight double-doubles (assists and digs), averaging nearly 10 assists per set and 3.67 digs per set in the last five matches. She notched season highs in both categories in Friday's win over Stephen F. Austin, totaling 51 assists and 18 digs. She then celebrated her 20th birthday on Saturday by totaling 64 assists and 26 digs in the final two contests (six sets) of the UND Classic.
The Phoenix is in the midst of its longest road stretch of the season, playing nine straight away from home after opening the season with the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament at the Kress Center Aug. 24-25. The team's next home match is set for Sept. 21 when it hosts Cleveland State to open Horizon League competition.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE
Following the Jackrabbit Invitational the Phoenix will head to its fourth and final tournament of the regular season, the Davidson Wildcat Classic on Sept. 14-15 in Davidson, N.C. Green Bay will face a trio of unfamiliar foes from the state of North Carolina, meeting North Carolina Central, High Point and Davidson for the first times in school history.
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