GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Fresh off its tournament victory at the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge last week, the Green Bay volleyball team (4-2) takes its four-match winning streak on the road this weekend to Cedar Falls, Iowa for a pair of contests against Northern Iowa (3-4).
The Phoenix and the Panthers will square off twice at the McLeod Center on Saturday, with the first meeting at 12 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS UNI is the third Green Bay opponent this season that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament (Ohio State, Liberty). The Panthers posted a 25-10 record in 2012, including a 15-3 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference, and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney where they defeated Kansas State 3-0 in the first round before falling to Nebraska in the second round.
The Panthers are off to a 3-4 start in 2013, earning wins against Fairfield, No. 17 Louisville and North Dakota State and dropping matches against Utah State, Utah, No. 11 Iowa State and Wisconsin. UNI plays a road match on Friday at St. Louis before welcoming the Phoenix on Saturday.
UNI is led by sisters Shelby and Courtney Kintzel, who have the top two kill totals on the team (Shelby 79, Courtney 73), combining for 152. Courtney Kintzel also leads the Panthers with 32 total blocks.
The Phoenix is 0-2 all-time against the Panthers, falling 3-0 in both the 1988 and 2009 seasons.
RECORD-BREAKING CROWD UNI recently set a new single-match attendance record in its 2013 home opener against No. 11 Iowa State on Sept. 4. The match drew 6,621 fans to the McLeod Center, breaking the previous record of 6,490 set in 2011 at contest featuring the same two teams.
STIFF COMPETITION Green Bay has seven matches on its 2013 schedule against opponents who played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Phoenix has already faced No. 23 Ohio State and Liberty at the NIU Invitational, and after taking on UNI twice on Saturday still has a match against Marquette (Sept. 17) and two against defending Horizon League champ Cleveland State (Oct. 19 and Nov. 15).
CHAMPS! Green Bay claimed the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge title last week in Auburn, Ala., posting a perfect 3-0 record and extending its winning streak to four matches. The Phoenix began the tourney with a 3-1 comeback win over Troy on Thursday afternoon before upsetting previously-unbeaten Auburn 3-2 in their home opener on Thursday night. Green Bay wrapped up the championship with a clean 3-0 sweep of Mercer on Friday.
MVP AND POW FOR LVZ Senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) was named the Most Valuable Player of the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge after leading the Phoenix with 44 kills and adding 34 digs and nine blocks in the three matches. Her tournament was highlighted by a career-high 20-kill effort in Green Bay’s victory over Troy. In addition, Van Zeeland was tabbed as the Horizon League’s Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for the first time in her career.
Joining Van Zeeland on the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge All-Tournament Team were senior Katie Mroczenski (New Berlin, Wis.) and sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.). Mroczenski was a consistent force at the net, posting 14 blocks and 13 kills, and Gunderson had three straight double-digit kill efforts (14 vs. Troy, 12 at Auburn, 14 vs. Mercer) to finish the event with 40.
CLIMBING THE RANKS Several Phoenix players rank among the Horizon League leaders in a number of statistical categories. Mroczenski leads all league players with 37 total blocks (1.48 per set), sophomore Jillian Bauer (Verona, Wis.) is tops in the conference in digs per set with 4.60 and sophomore Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) is second in assists per set with 10.72. Freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Penn.) and Van Zeeland rank third and fourth in kills per set with averages of 3.45 and 3.40, respectively.
HEAR IT FROM THE COACH Head coach Michaela Franklin sat down with Ryan Hartwig earlier this week to recap the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge, talk about the team’s recent awards and preview the matches against UNI. Click here to watch the interview.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE Green Bay’s highly-anticipated home opener against Marquette is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Kress Center. The contest against Franklin’s old squad will be shown live on the Horizon League Network and also aired on a tape-delayed basis on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel. For tickets to Green Bay’s home opener, visit GreenBayPhoenix.com/tickets or order by phone at 920-465-2625.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics and Green Bay Volleyball, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.