After a month on the road to begin the season, UALR opens up its home schedule against a pair of Sun Belt Conference West division opponents in ULM (4-7. 0-2 SBC) and North Texas (16-5, 2-0). The Trojans battle the Warhawks on Friday (Sept. 28) at 7 p.m. while UALR hosts the Mean Green Saturday (Sept. 29) at 7 p.m.
Live stats (free) and live video (subscription) links will be available on the home page at UALRTrojans.com and on the volleyball schedule page. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for kids. For more information on this and season passes, please call 501-565-UALR.
Like Florida Atlantic, ULM and third-year head coach Ernest Vasquez chose the uncommon approach in the pre-conference schedule and only played in two of a possible four weekend tournaments. The Warhawks are 4-7 with wins against Stephen F. Austin and Jackson State (2) in four sets and a straight-set win over Grambling State. ULM was swept in a pair of matches to begin conference play, losing to Louisiana-Lafayette at home and at North Texas.
While the Warhawks are last in the conference in kills (10.03) and assists (9.28) per set and in hitting percentage at .136, they will pose an interesting challenge to UALR. The Warhawks are second in the conference in blocks per set (2.35) and are holding teams to an SBC fourth-best .174 hitting percentage. Countering, UALR is third in hitting and kills. If UALR can avoid the ULM block, the Warhawks are only seventh in the conference with 13.95 digs per set.
Despite ULM being in the bottom half of the conference in digs, sophomore libero Marcela Araya leads the SBC and is 28th in the nation with 5.34 digs per set. Junior middle Iren Marinova is third in the conference with 1.08 blocks per set. Also leading the Warhawks is senior outside hitter Samantha Morse, who leads the team with 2.9 kills per set and is second with 2.31 assists per set. Senior outside hitter Zuzana Markova leads the team with 2.56 assists per set.
The Warhawks have four different players with 0.72 blocks or more a set.
Scouting North Texas
The Mean Green come into the weekend with the second-best overall record in the SBC at 16-5 and 2-0 in conference play. North Texas knocked off Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday (Sept. 22) in a five-set thriller before taking down ULM in straight sets.
North Texas comes into the weekend riding a six-match winning streak, last losing to Maryland-Eastern Shore Sept. 14 in five sets.
North Texas' strength are at the net as not only are the Mean Green holding opponents to a league-low .139 hiting percentage, they also lead the conference with a 2.62 blocks per set and are second with a .234 hitting percentage of its own. The key will be getting to NT's back row as the Mean Green are ninth in the conference with 13.49 digs per set.
Junior middle Courtney Windham leads the conference and is 24th in the country with 1.38 blocks a set. She is also a huge contributor offensively as she is fourth in hitting percentage (.349) and sixth with 3.37 kills per set. Freshman outside Carnae Dillard is fifth in the SBC with 3.37 kills per set. Senior setter May Allen is 10th with 5.47 assists per set. However, Allen shares the setting duties with sophomore Camille Cherry, who is averaging 5.15 assists a set.
Senior libero Shelby Tamura is third in the SBC with 4.81 digs per set.
Last Time against ULM
MONROE, La. - The UALR volleyball team snapped a three-match losing streak Friday (Nov. 11, 2011) as the Trojans swept ULM 3-0 (25-20, 28-26, 25-22).
Edina Begic led the Trojans in kills with 15 and also contributed nine digs, while Emily Pepperman led the team with 16 digs. Kristi Block recorded a team-high of four blocks.
UALR recorded the team's highest attack percentage in set one recording 17 kills on 39 attempts with only one error for a .410 percentage.
In set two, a ULM service error gave the Trojans the 1-0 lead. After ULM scored a point, UALR ratted off two-straight points on kills by Kristi Block and Begic for the advantage.
UALR maintained the lead throughout most of the set until the Warhawks pushed points tying the score at 20 on a Trojan attack error.
The score tied five more times with ULM holding the lead. With the score at 26, a service ace by Sawyer Schaedig and a Warhawk attack error gave the Trojans the set win.
ULM took the 2-0 lead in set three, before a kill by Eva Xie gave UALR the team's first point. The Warhawks maintained the lead, but the Trojans pushed points tying the score at 14.
The score tied four times, until a kill by Block gave UALR the advantage. The Trojans kept ULM at 22 points winning the set and match on a kill by Gantar.
Last Time against North Texas
DENTON, Texas - The UALR volleyball team dropped the Trojans third-straight match Sunday at North Texas 0-3 (14-25, 19-25, 23-25). The Trojans fall to 10-18 overall and 5-9 in Sun Belt Conference action.
Edina Begic and Paige Gantar led the team in kills with seven, while Begic also led the team in digs with nine. Emily Pepperman contributed eight digs in the loss.
UALR recorded the team's lowest attack percentage in set one recording seven kills on 33 attempts with four errors for a .091 mark.
The Trojans opened the set on a 2-0 run on a kill by Eva Xie and a service ace by Gantar. North Texas (16-15, 7-8 SBC) tied the score at four, five, and seven, before recording seven more points for the 14-7 lead.
The Trojans never recovered with the Mean Green completing runs of 4-0 and 5-0 including at the end of the set to win 25-14.
UNT opened the second set 3-0, before UALR scored the team's first point on a kill by Kristi Block. The Trojans pushed points tying the score at nine and ten on kills by Alexis Hein.
The score tied four more times before back-to-back UALR attack errors gave the Mean Green the 17-15 edge. The Trojans tied the score at 17 on a UNT error and regain an 18-17 lead on a kill by Hein.
Both teams exchanged points, before a UALR service error sparked a 6-0 run by North Texas as the Mean Green won 25-19.
UALR tied their lowest attack percentage in the third set recording 12 kills on 33 attempts with nine errors for the .091 attack percentage.
The Trojans opened the set 1-0 after a kill by Xie. The score tied five times and changed hands five times during the set.
With the score tied at 15, UALR took the lead on a service ace by Begic and a UNT attack error. The Trojans maintained the edge until the Mean Green pushed points tying the score at 23 on a kill.
A UALR attack error followed by a UNT kill won the set and match for the Mean Green 25-23.
Give Me Five
Matches going five sets can be stressful. Someone is guaranteed to win following the set and it is only played to 15. One mistake can lead to a run and end the match. UALR head coach Van Compton and the Trojan volleyball team know this feeling full well by now.
With a pair of five setters to begin Sun Belt Conference play this past weekend, half of UALR's 14 matches this year have gone the distance. With still a minimum of 12 matches left, UALR has already played the most five-set matches since the 2009 season. After beating Austin Peay in five in the second match of the season, UALR lost the next four. That all changed in SBC play when it beat both FIU and Florida Atlantic in five sets this past weekend.
The Trojan record for five-set matches in a season is 10 (2003). Five different seasons UALR has played eight.
More Than Meets the Eye
By now, everyone is well aware of sophomore Edina Begic and the fact she leads the nation in both points (6.06) and kills (5.37) per set. But it truly takes a team effort for an individual to put up the numbers Edina currently has.
A great kill all starts with a great pass. As a team, UALR is currently second in the conference with 15.81 digs a set. Senior Emily Pepperman, the UALR career leader in digs, currently leads the team and is eighth in the conference with four digs a set. Begic is second for UALR but sophomore Allison Wyatt is third with 2.68 digs a set. Senior Daniele Souza Moura, sophomore Marleen de Zoete and freshman Tyler Davis all have multiple double-digit dig matches.
Along with a great pass, it takes a great assist. De Zoete fits the bill as she is third in the SBC and 55th in the nation with 10.78 assists per set. Earlier this year, she tied a school record and recorded the most assists in a match (71) in five years among SBC volleyball players. Friday (Sept. 21) at FIU, it was off of de Zoete's serve in the fifth game that helped Begic record five-straight kills.
Begic is not even the only Trojan hitter having a great season. Senior Eva Xie is turning in her best season of her career with 2.78 kills per set, almost half a kill better than her sophomore season. She has double-digit kills in nine matches this season, including the last three. Sophomore Adisa Hodzic is third on the team with 2.17 kills per set, more than a kill better than her freshman season. Even Souza Moura is turning in her best season in kills (1.53), blocks (0.92) and assists (0.55) per set.
What a Finish
Sophomore Edina Begic, who came in to last week second in the nation in kills per set, took over the lead in style from Tyler Henderson of Tulsa in what may have been the greatest set for any player on the season.
In the fifth against FIU, she was succeful on seven of nine attempts (.778), including a draw-dropping five straight to give UALR a 11-2 advantage.