UALR (8-4) begins Sun Belt Conference play this weekend when it travels to Mobile, Ala., Friday (Sept. 27) for a battle with South Alabama at 7 p.m. The Trojans will open up its home schedule Sunday (Sept. 29) when it battles SBC newcomer Georgia State (5-5) at noon.
For tickets to the UALR-Georgia State matchup, you can call the UALR ticket office at (501) 565-8257. Tickets are $4 for children and $5 for adults and are available at the door or by calling 501-565-8257. If you cannot make it to the Jack Stephens on Sunday or want to follow the match against the Jaguars on Friday, you can click here for live stats against South Alabama or here for live stats against GSU. Live video for the South Alabama (subscription) can be found here. Finally, video for all UALR volleyball matches (subscription) can be purchased by clicking here.
• Having won its last six games, UALR (8-4) begins its 23rd season in Sun Belt Conference play Friday (Sept. 27) when it travels to Mobile, Ala., to take on the Jaguars of South Alabama (5-5). USA did not play this past weekend with its last match a 3-0 win at Jackson State Sept. 17.
• The Trojans will open up their home slate Sunday (Sept. 29) when they host Georgia State (5-9). It will be the first conference meeting between GSU and UALR.
• UALR is 13-9 in SBC openers with a 19-3 mark in the first SBC home match.
• Redshirt freshman Carolee Dillard moved from unranked to second in the SBC with 1.13 blocks per set, thanks to 19 blocks in 10 sets played last week at the Tiger Invitational. She and freshman Rachel Williams had a career-best eight assisted blocks against Austin Peay Sept. 20.
• Junior Edina Begic and sophomore Sonja Milanovic both have 30+ kills in a match this season. According to the AVCA, only one other player in the country has accomplished this feat so far in 2013.
Scouting South Alabama
UALR (8-4, 0-0 Sun Belt) will be facing a well rested South Alabama (5-5, 0-0 SBC) team when the two meet Friday (Sept. 27) at 7 p.m. The Jaguars have not played since Sept. 17 in a sweep at Jackson State.
Having only played in 11 of the team’s 36 sets, freshman Jessica Lewis leads the team with 4.36 kills per set. Classmate Mechell Daniel is second with 3.36 kills per set while sophomore Nikki Gittens rounds out the front line for USA with 2.11 kills per set. Sophomore Emily Hundt adds 8.63 assists per set with 3.25 digs per set from freshman Abby Baker.
The Trojans block will be tested this week as South Alabama is second in the SBC in blocking defense by allowing only 1.44 blocks per set. Meanwhile, UALR is second in the conference with 2.53 blocks per set.
Last season, UALR beat South Alabama in four sets at the Jack Stephens Center. The Jaguars only return five of their 56 kills from match (all five spikes by Savannah Stewart), but Stewart added a match-best 15 digs while Jenna Hassel added 10 digs. Meanwhile, UALR lost the majority of its defense but returns the front line. Edina Begic had a double-double with 16 kills and 11 digs while Adisa Hodzic contributed 13 kills. Marleen de Zoete had 44 assists.
South Alabama was picked to finish eighth in the SBC.
Scouting Georgia State
For the first time since Florida Atlantic in 2006, UALR (8-4, 0-0 SBC) will be welcoming a new conference member to the Jack Stephens Center when the Trojans open up its home slate Sunday (Sept. 27) at noon against Georgia State (5-9, 0-0 SBC).
While the Panthers have no players averaging more than three kills per set, GSU has a quartet of players with more than two kills per set: sophomore Dede Bohannon (2.90), redshirt sophomore Kitan Ajanaku (2.49), sophomore Eliza Zachary (2.27) and sophomore Sydney Hunsley (2.26). Sophomore Natalie Nieto headlines the team with 9.61 assists per set and a .303 hitting percentage while senior Emily Averbeck leads the SBC and is 74th in the nation with 4.53 digs per set.
UALR and GSU met for the only time on Aug. 26, 2011 with the Panthers claiming a five-set win. Edina Begic led the match with 19 kills while Adisa Hodzic added seven kills. Emily Averbeck had a match-high 19 digs for GSU.
Georgia State was picked to finish ninth in its first season in the SBC.
UALR Individuals Nationally
The Trojans continue to have numerous players ranked among the top players not only in the SBC, but in the nation.
Junior Edina Begic leads the SBC and is fourth in the nation with 5.28 kills per set. Coupled with 14 aces (0.30 aces per set, seventh in the SBC), Begic is second in the nation and first in the SBC with 5.96 points per set.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Sonja Milanovic makes up the second half of the most potent offensive attack in the SBC. Milanovic is second in the SBC and 84th in the nation with 3.64 kills per set. She is also second in the SBC and 88th in NCAA Division I with 4.15 points per set. Junior Marleen de Zoete leads the conference and is 18th in the nation with 11.32 assists per set.
UALR also broke into the defensive statistics nationally this week. Redshirt freshman Carolee Dillard is second in the SBC and 121st in the nation with 1.13 blocks per set.
Also in the conference, junior Adisa Hodzic is sixth with 1.02 blocks per set while classmate Capri Rino is eighth with 3.68 digs per set.
Taking a Break
All of UALR’s opponents know by now the Trojans play quite a lot of five-set matches. UALR went 7-4 in 2012 in matches that went the distance and has already played four such matches this season. The Trojans have gone to sudden death 15 times in its last 39 matches.
Last weekend at the Tiger Invitational, the UALR volleyball team gave head coach Van Compton a bit of a breather. With a three-match sweep at Memphis, Tenn., UALR only went past the third set once (Sept. 20 against Austin Peay) and did not play any five set matches. It is only the fifth time in the last 16 weekends the Trojans have not gone to a fifth set in at least one match.
Two of UALR’s wins last week where in straight sets. The last time UALR won two matches in the same weekend in straight sets was in 2011 on Sept. 30 (Troy) and Oct. 2 (South Alabama). The Trojans last two road wins in straight sets were both against Memphis.
On the Road to 200
UALR head coach Van Compton has many accomplishments in her 25-year career. She was the fastest coach to 100 SBC wins and was named Sun Belt Conference All-Time Volleyball Coach in 2005 in the 30th anniversary of the conference.
Coming off her silver year of coaching volleyball at UALR in 2012, Compton has the chance to make even more history. Compton is 184-107 in 22 seasons of SBC play and has a chance to hit 200 victories as early as at WKU Nov. 10.
Begic with the Three-Peat
Junior Edina Begic made UALR and Sun Belt Conference history when she was named Offensive Player of the Week for the third consecutive time in a vote by the SBC’s head coaches Monday (Sept. 23).
Begic becomes only the second player in SBC history (FIU’s Yarimar Rosa in 2009) to be named Player of the Week for three consecutive weeks. This is also the seventh such honor for Begic’s career and passes former Trojans libero Amy Hafner (2007-08) for the most conference Player of the Week awards.
Begic continues to lead the SBC and is in the top-10 in the country with 5.28 kills per set. She also is sixth in the conference with a .311 hitting percentage.
To read more, click here.
On the Block
The block has been effective area for UALR in 2013. Prior to this season, UALR has out blocked its opponent by 10+ only once since the 2009 season: on Oct. 2, 2011 against South Alabama. UALR has already accomplished this feat in two of nine matches in 2013: a 19.5-4 edge at Mississippi State (Aug. 31) and an 11-1 edge against Northern Illinois (Sept. 14). The 19.5 blocks against Mississippi State were the most blocks in a match for the Trojans since Oct. 25, 2002 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
With the two wins in 2013, UALR is 8-0 since the 2003 season when out blocking an opponent by double-digits.
Individually, redshirt freshman Carolee Dillard tallied 19 assisted blocks at the Tiger Invitational to move to second in the SBC with 1.13 blocks per set. Dillard’s best match came against Austin Peay, where she and freshman Rachel Williams each tallied eight assisted blocks.
Trojan Rewind: La Salle
The Trojans raced past the Explorers thanks to a 43-17 edge in total kills as UALR (8-4) took out La Salle (1-15) in straight sets 25-15, 25-10-25-12 to finish pre-conference action Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Tiger Invitational in Memphis, Tenn.
Junior Edina Begic captured her first Tournament MVP honor of her career, finishing with 17 kills and only three errors on 34 swings for a .412 hitting percentage. Also named to the All-Tournament Team was sophomore Sonja Milanovic, who recorded eight kills and only one error on 12 swings for a .583 hitting percentage against La Salle.
Junior Marleen de Zoete closed out a solid weekend with 34 assists and four kills on seven attempts for a .571 hitting percentage. She had 10 kills on 19 swings with no errors (.526 hitting percentage) for the weekend. Redshirt freshman Carolee Dillard added four blocks and six kills.
To read more, click here.
UALR will kick off its October schedule next Wednesday when it welcomes rival Arkansas State (4-10) to the Jack Stephens Center at 7 p.m. It will be the 48th meeting all time between the two schools.