GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – After opening its Horizon League schedule with a pair of wins last weekend, the Green Bay volleyball team (7-7, 2-0 HL) begins a four-match road stretch this weekend with trips to Valparaiso (12-3, 1-0 HL) on Friday (7 p.m. CT) and UIC (5-11, 0-1 HL) on Saturday (4 p.m. CT).
LIVE COVERAGE Fans unable to make the trip to the Chicagoland area this weekend can follow the action with free live video on the Horizon League Network and live stats. Links 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 matches.
SCOUTING GREEN BAY Green Bay enters Friday’s contest at Valparaiso on a three-match winning streak, and is coming off a pair of home wins last weekend in the opening matches of Horizon League play. The Phoenix started its conference slate with a convincing 3-0 sweep of Wright State on Friday and followed it up with an exciting, 3-2 comeback victory over Oakland the next day on head coach Michaela Franklin’s birthday.
The last time Green Bay started 2-0 in conference play was in 2003 when the Phoenix finished 10-4, won the Horizon League tournament and earned its first and only trip to the NCAA Tournament.
A trio of hitters tallied double-digit kills against the Raiders on Friday to help the Phoenix record a season-high hitting percentage of .347. Sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) had 10 kills on just 15 swings to lead Green Bay with a career-high hitting percentage of .667, while seniors Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) and Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.) added 13 and 11 kills, respectively.
After falling down 0-2 to the Golden Grizzlies, the Phoenix rallied to give Franklin a thrilling birthday gift by taking each of the next three sets. Anderson and freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) each totaled 21 kills in the match to lead Green Bay’s attack, while sophomore Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) directed the offense with 59 assists.
Green Bay has three players in the Horizon League’s top-10 in kills per set, as Hurley ranks fourth (3.27), Anderson ranks sixth (3.14) and Van Zeeland ranks eighth (3.08). Sophomore Jillian Bauer (Verona, Wis.) sits atop the conference in digs per set with 5.00, while Riese is second in assists per set with 10.39.
SCOUTING VALPARAISO Valparaiso was picked to win the Horizon League in the preseason poll and is off to an impressive 12-3 start in 2013. The Crusaders started the season by winning its first eight matches, and has now won two in a row after falling three times in a five-match stretch in September. Valpo returns home for the first time on Friday in nearly a month, as its last contest at the Athletics-Recreation Center was a 3-1 win against Iowa – one that improved the squad to 8-0.
The Crusaders most recently defeated UIC 3-1 in its league opener last Saturday. Freshman Emily Campbell led the way with 12 kills in the win, while fellow newcomer Morganne Longoria had 26 digs. Valpo ranks first in the conference in opponent hitting percentage, holding its opposition to just a .147 clip, while also ranking second in team hitting percentage at .217. Junior Morgan Beil is tops on the team and fourth in the conference with a .287 rate.
Valpo boasts 11 straight 20-win seasons under head coach Carin Avery, who has guided her program to three NCAA Tournament appearances since 2002. The Crusaders own a 20-9 advantage in the all-time series against the Phoenix. Green Bay’s last win in the series came on Oct. 22, 2011 – a 3-2 triumph at the ARC.
SCOUTING UIC Including last Saturday’s home loss to Valparaiso at the Flames Athletic Center, UIC has dropped three straight matches and eight of its last 10. The Flames host Milwaukee on Friday night at 7 p.m. before wrapping up its four-match homestand against the Phoenix on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Senior setter MaryKate Imrie leads all Horizon League players with 10.47 assists per set, helping a trio of teammates average more than 2.76 kills per set. Freshman Kara Johnson leads UIC and ranks seventh in the conference with 3.14 kills per set, while junior Sara Sternard is third in the league with a hitting percentage of .312.
UIC leads 34-16 in the all-time series and has won each of the last four meetings. Green Bay’s last win against the Flames in Chicago came in the 2008 season.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE Green Bay continues its four-match road stretch next weekend, traveling to Milwaukee on Friday at 7 p.m. before heading back to Chicago for its final non-conference match of the season at DePaul the following Tuesday.
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