Sept. 27, 2004
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The 2004 Horizon League volleyball season kicks into high gear this week with eight conference matches on the schedule, four each on Friday and Saturday.
Loyola enters the week in first place in the League standings with a 2-0 record, followed by Butler and UW-Milwaukee at 1-0. They are the only teams to survive the opening week of conference play without a loss.
Ramblers Rolling Along
Loyola has won 10 of its last 11 matches after opening the season with an 0-3 mark. During the streak, the Ramblers are outhitting their opponents .246-.168 and averaging nearly 4 1/2 more kills per game. Highlighting the stretch is a thrilling five-game upset of #9 Illinois (30-25, 30-24, 26-30, 28-30, 15-13) Sept. 14. The Ramblers also preconference tournament titles at their own LaSalle Bank Chicago Challenge and the Jesuit Joust in Milwaukee. Six of Loyola's wins have been sweeps.
Vikings Get Windy City Monkey off Their Back
Cleveland State snapped an 0-26 mark against Loyola and UIC in Chicago with a four-game win over the Flames Sept. 25. The Vikings, who had been 0-16 all-time at UIC, nearly knocked off the Ramblers, losing in five games after leading 2-0.
Cleveland State has won six of its last seven matches with its only loss to League-leading Loyola in five games on the road after leading two games to none. The Vikings currently lead the conference in both hitting percentage (.230) and opponent hitting percentage (.175) as well as in blocks (2.92 bpg).
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 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. 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.
Holbrook Doing It All for Loyola
Loyola setter Lauren Holbrook continues to do it all for the Ramblers this season. She leads the conference with 12.69 assists per game while also averaging 3.29 digs and 1.61 kills per game. She came within one kill of a triple-double earlier this season versus South Dakota State with nine kills, 58 assists and 14 digs, and has been within three kills five other times. In addition, she was named the most valuable player as Loyola won each of its preconference tournaments.
Bulldogs Duo Double Trouble
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 first and third, respectively, in the conference with 5.12 and 4.10 kills per game through the season's first month. In fact, they have combined for 65 percent of the Bulldogs' kills, with Carter having 266 and Bienemy 213, compared to only 258 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. Bienemy recorded her 1,000th career kill in the Bulldogs' loss to Cincinnati Sept. 25.
Panthers' Fruit Juiced Again in 2004
After leading the Horizon League in kills per game last season, UW-Milwaukee senior Karen Fruit has picked up where she left off to begin the 2004 campaign as she ranks second in the conference with 4.81 kills per game, including 30-kill performance in the Panthers' four-game win over Northern Illinois Sept. 3. That total ties for the second-highest single-match mark in UWM's Division I history. She has posted double digits in kills in 26 of UWM's last 28 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 new lineup this fall. Returning All-League setter Leslie Kuhn has moved to an outside hitter spot and is averaging 2.40 kills per game, while Jackie Rosen joined the starting unit after playing the libero spot a year ago and is averaging a team-high 3.71 kills. Meanwhile, true freshman setter Betty Slinger, last year's Ms. Volleyball in Minnesota as a prep, currently ranks seventh in the conference with 7.60 assists per game.
Future's Bright for Youngstown State
Looking to put last year's last-place Horizon League finish (10-19, 1-13) behind them, the Youngstown State Penguins already are on the verge of surpassing last year's win total with a 7-7 record so far this season. Freshman Jessica Fraley is the top freshman in the conference in both hitting percentage (.255, fifth) and kills per game (3.34, eighth).
Wright State Has Eye on the Future
Wright State has opened the season with a 2-11 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. Sophomores Sarah Poling and Taylor Gerlach lead the team in kills (3.38) and digs (4.60), respectively.
Panthers Pick Up Where They Left Off
UW-Milwaukee's win over UW-Green Bay in its Horizon League opener continued a run of success for the Panthers that goes back to the mid-1990s. Including that victory, UWM is 81-10 in regular-season conference matches during the past eight seasons. They have finished no worse than 11-3 in League action in that stretch and have suffered only one conference loss four times. The Panthers have an overall record of 169-53 in the last eight years.
Crain Nears CSU Assists Mark
With 86 assists this past weekend, Cleveland State senior setter Kelly Crain surpassed 4,000 career assists. She enters this week's action with 4,052 and needs just 26 more to break the school record held by Erinn Kingman (1997-2000).
Loyola is 2-0 in Horizon League play for the sixth time in seven seasons ... UWM is 1-0 in the conference for the eighth time in the last nine years ... UIC won its League opener for the first time since 2000 ... Wright State lost its conference lidlifter for the first time since 2000.
UIC Welcomes Back Popp
Nearly two years to the day, UIC sophomore Julie Popp finally returned to action after missing most of the 2002 season and all of 2003 with a left leg injury. Prior to her return against Youngstown State Sept. 24, she had not played since suffering her injury Sept. 27, 2002, versus Loyola.
Horizon League Player of the Week - Sept. 27
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Hilary Stromath of Loyola has been selected the Horizon League Volleyball Player of the Week for Sept. 27.
She averaged 3.09 kills and 0.73 blocks per game while hitting .377 (34-11-61) as the Ramblers went 2-1, including opening the Horizon League season with a pair of wins.
In the two League matches, Stromath hit a conference-only-leading .512 (28-6-43) while averaging 3.50 kills per game. She drilled a career-best 16 kills and added four blocks in Loyola's come-from-behind five-game win over Cleveland State Sept. 24 and then pounded out 12 kills with only one error (.611) in a sweep of Youngstown State Sept. 25.Loyola (10-4) leads the Horizon League with a perfect 2-0 record.
Other Top Horizon League Performers - Sept. 27
Cleveland State, Senior, Middle Hitter, Bedford Heights, Ohio
Bouyer hit .481 (30-4-54) and averaged 1.56 blocks per game in Cleveland State's split at Loyola and UIC. In the five-game loss to Loyola, she posted 12 kills and seven blocks. She then tallied 18 kills with only one error (.630) at UIC to go along with seven blocks.
Butler, Senior, Outside Hitter, Columbus, Ind.
Carter averaged 5.75 kills and 4.25 digs per game as Butler went 1-1 during the week, including 1-0 in Horizon League action. She had 25 kills and 13 digs in a win over Wright State and then 21 of each versus defending Conference USA champion Cincinnati.
UW-Green Bay, Junior, Outside Hitter, West Allis, Wis.
In UW-Green Bay's only match of the week, Rosen recorded 20 kills and nine digs in a loss to UW-Milwaukee. She hit .235 for the match (20-8-51).
UW-Milwaukee, Sophomore, Middle Hitter, Waterford, Wis.
Hegemann averaged 2.71 kills, 1.71 digs and 1.29 blocks per game in UW-Milwaukee's two matches, a loss to Marquette and conference win over UW-Green Bay. Against the Phoenix, she tallied 12 kills, seven digs, six blocks and five aces.
Wright State, Sophomore, Outside Hitter, St. Henry, Ohio
Poling averaged 3.5 kills and 4.25 digs as Wright State lost to Butler in its only match of the week. She hit .220 for the match (14-5-41).
< B>Sarah Wellner
Youngstown State, Freshman, Outside Hitter, Miamisburg, Ohio
Past Players of the Week
Sept. 6 - Karen Fruit, UW-Milwaukee
Sept. 13 - Lauren Holbrook, Loyola
Sept. 20 - Jamie Bouyer, Cleveland State
Sept. 27 - Hilary Stromath, Loyola