Sept. 14, 2004
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Horizon League volleyball action continues in earnest this week in the final action before the start of conference play.
Following six midweek matches, all eight League teams will compete in tournaments this weekend, including Cleveland State hosting the CSU Invitational and Wright State the Raider Challenge. Both are five-team fields.
Three Horizon League teams will meet top-25 teams this week, highlighted by Loyola's playing host to #9 Illinois on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The Ramblers have won their last three matches in sweeps, while the Fighting Illini are coming off an upset of #1-ranked Southern California last week.
In addition, Youngstown State will play at #25 Ohio State on Tuesday and Wright State will face #17 Louisville in tournament action on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Ramblers on Sweepingly Good StreakLoyola enters the week's action as the Horizon League's hottest team, having won its last four matches in three-game sweeps. Last week the Ramblers posted a trio of sweeps of Chicagoland rivals Northwestern, UIC and DePaul in winning the LaSalle Bank Chicago Challenge on their home court. Horizon League Player of the Week Lauren Holbrook averaged 13.56 assists, 3.11 digs and 2.56 kills per game en route to tournament MVP honors. Loyola is now 4-3 under first-year head coach Tim O'Brien, who was an assistant coach the last two years for the team.
Butler Picked to Win League Crown
The Butler volleyball team has been picked to win its first Horizon League championship since 1997 in preseason voting by the conference's eight head coaches, the League office announced Thursday (Aug. 19).< BR>
The Bulldogs received 45 points and four first-place votes to edge defending regular-season champion UW-Milwaukee by one point for the top spot. The Panthers garnered three of the remaining four first-place votes and 44 total points. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Six All-League Honorees Back for '04
Six of the 12 members of the 2003 All-Horizon League Volleyball Team return this season to provide a formidable nucleus for success around the conference. Back for more in 2004 are Areal Bienemy and Kali Carter of Butler, Jamie Bouyer of Cleveland State, Karen Fruit of UW-Milwaukee, Lauren Holbrook of Loyola and Leslie Kuhn of UW-Green Bay. All are seniors.
Bulldogs Duo Double Trouble for Opponents
Butler seniors Kali Carter and Areal Bienemy form arguably the Horizon League's top one-two punch this fall. The returning all-conference picks are second and fourth, respectively, in the conference with 5.14 and 4.28 kills per game through the season's first two weeks. In fact, they have combined for 67 percent of the Bulldogs' kills, with Carter having 149 and Bienemy 124, compared to only 136 for the rest of the team.
Against Western Illinois Sept. 10, Carter recorded the first 30-30 game in Butler history with 32 kills and 30 digs. Both totals currently are the highest this season in the Horizon League.
Panthers' Fruit Juiced Again in 2004
After leading the Horizon League with 4.22 kills per game last season, UW-Milwaukee senior Karen Fruit has picked up where she left off to begin the 2004 campaign as she again tops the conference with 5.25 kills per game, including 30-kill performance in the Panthers' four-game win over Northern Illinois University Sept. 3. That total ties for the second-highest single-match mark in UWM's Division I history. Fruit, an All-League pick in 2003, had 11 kills in the third game and 12 in the deciding fourth against the host Huskies. She has posted double digits in kills in UWM's last 23 matches dating to last season.
UW-Green Bay Position Moves Pay Off
After losing four starters from last season's Horizon League Tournament championship team, UW-Green Bay has regrouped with a decidedly new lineup this fall. Returning All-League setter Leslie Kuhn has moved to an outside hitter spot and is averaging 2.41 kills per game, while Jackie Rosen joined the starting unit after playing the libero spot a year ago and is averaging a team-high 4.23 kills. Meanwhile, true freshman setter Betty Slinger, last year's Ms. Volleyball in Minnesota as a prep, currently ranks sixth in the conference with 10.45 assists per game.
Defense Does It for Cleveland State
Defense has been the key for Cleveland State in the team's 3-2 start this season. The Vikings lead the Horizon League in opponent hitting percentage, holding foes to just .154, and also rank second in the conference with 2.83 blocks per game. In fact, CSU players hold the top three spots in the current league blocking statistics --- Danielle Siefker (1.47 bpg), Jamie Bouyer (1.39) and Nickole Kennedy (1.28).
Youngstown State Starts Strong
Looking to put last year's last-place Horizon League finish (10-19, 1-13) behind them, the Youngstown State Penguins have opened the season on an up note with a 4-3 overall record. YSU is hitting a league-high .228, which is 20 points higher than the next-best team, and also averaged a conference-leading 3.0 blocks per game. Senior Melanie Pounders (.270) and freshman Jessica Fraley (.263) are the only pair of teammates to rank in the top five in the Horizon League in hitting percentage.
Bouyer's Back to Blocking
Cleveland State senior middle hitter Jamie Bouyer has emerged as perhaps the Horizon League's top two-way player in the young season. She currently leads the conference with a .351 hitting percentage and ranks second in blocks with 1.39 per game. Last season Bouyer led the Horizon League with 1.55 blocks per game en route to all-conference honors.
Youthful Wright State Has Eye on the FutureWright State has opened the season with a 1-6 record but that may not be entirely unexpected considering the Raiders' youthful roster. Of the 13 players on the team, six are sophomores and three are freshmen, which should provide hope for the rest of the year. Sophomore Taylor Gerlach ranks second in the Horizon League with 4.75 digs per game, while classmate Sarah Poling is sixth in the conference with 3.57 kills per game. The Raiders picked up their first win of the season with a five-game victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore as five players recorded double figures in kills.
Youth is Served for UWMFreshmen Jamie Gabrielson and Leanne Felsing of UW-Milwaukee has been welcome additions to the Panthers' rotation this fall. Gabrielson leads the Horizon League with 0.65 service aces per game and tops UWM with 3.20 digs per game. Felsing, meanwhile, is eighth in the league with a .237 hitting percentage.
UIC Earns Rare Win over DePaul
UIC only won one match at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Challenge but it was noteworthy in that it was the Flames' first over Chicagoland rival DePaul since 1998, ending a streak of five losses.
Horizon League Player of the Week - Sept. 13
Senior / Setter
Lauren Holbrook of Loyola has been selected the Horizon League Volleyball Player of the Week for Sept. 13.
A senior setter, Holbrook led the Ramblers to three straight sweeps of local rivals North-western, UIC and DePaul at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Challenge en route to being named the tournament's most valuable player.
She finished with nine kills, 35 assists and seven digs against Northwestern in Loyola's opener on Friday. Then on Saturday, she registered seven kills, 10 digs and 36 assists versus UIC, followed by seven kills, 11 digs and 51 assists against DePaul.
Holbrook averaged 13.56 assists, 3.11 digs and 2.56 kills per game for the week.
Other Top Horizon League Performers - Sept. 13
Cleveland State, Senior, Middle Hitter, Bedford Heights, Ohio
Bouyer hit .407 (44-11-81) and averaged 1.54 blocks per game during the week as Cleveland State went 2-2. She led the Vikings in kills in three of the team's four matches, posting 15 against Bowling Green, nine versus Manhattan and 14 against Siena. At the Big Orange Classic, she earned all-tournament honors after hitting .442 with 1.78 blocks per game.
Butler, Senior, Outside Hitter, Columbus, Ind.
Carter posted a Butler single-match record with 32 kills in the Bulldogs' four-game victory over Western Illinois in the Butler Invitational. In the only 30-30 performance in school history, she added a career-high 30 digs en route to all-tournament honors. Carter, who also had 20 kills against Jacksonville State and 25 versus Bradley, averaged 5.65 kills and 3.59 digs per game while hitting .274 in four matches during the week.
UW-Milwaukee, Senior, Outside Hitter, Viola, Wis.
Fruit, last week's Horizon League Player of the Week, averaged 5.25 kills per game as UW-Milwaukee finished as runner-up at its own Powerade Panther Invitational with a 2-1 record. She had 16 kills against Saint Louis, 18 versus IUPUI and 15 in the finale against College of Charleston to go along with 16 digs. Her double-digit kills streak now stands at 23 matches.
Wright State, Sophomore, Outside Hitter, St. Henry, Ohio
Poling registered a double-double with 17 kills and a career-best 23 digs as Wright State defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore for its first win of the season. She also had a career-high 19 kills in the tourney opener against Georgetown and went on to earn all-tournament accolades at the Georgetown Classic.
UW-Green Bay, Junior, Outside Hitter, West Allis, Wis.
At the UWGB Amerihost Classic, Rosen averaged 4.45 kills per game for the host Phoenix. Her 49 kills in the three matches included a career-high 25 against North Dakota State. Last year's starting libero, she was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts.
Youngstown State, Junior, Middle Hitter, East Aurora, N.Y.
In her first action of the season, Shea averaged 2.42 kills, 1.83 blocks and 1.0 aces per game with a .254 hitting percentage at the YSU Invitational. She collected her first career double-double against UNC-Wilmington with 13 kills and 10 blocks to go along with six aces. In the championship match versus Chicago State, she had 10 kills and 10 blocks to earn all-tournament accolades.
UIC, Sophomore, Middle Hitter, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Springer averaged 3.21 kills and 1.07 blocks per game with a hitting percentage of .274 in UIC's four matches during the week. In the Flames' five-game victory over DePaul, she had a match-high 19 kills and hit at a .472 clip. She also led the team with 11 kills against Loyola and 16 versus Northwestern to earn all-tournament honors at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Challenge.