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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sports

Volleyball welcomes pair of conference foes


Louisiana vs Houston

Volleyball will try to return to their winning ways over the weekend against ECU and Cincinnati. | Courtesy of Juan DeLeon

The volleyball team will attempt a recovery when they welcome the University of Cincinnati on Thursday night and East Carolina University on Saturday afternoon.

As the preseason favorite to win the American Athletic Conference, the Bearcats are rebounding from a difficult start to the season. The team is currently in a tie for first in the conference with a 5-1 conference record and are winners of four straight games.

The Cougars will have to keep 6-foot-4 Bearcat sophomore outside hitter Jordan Thompson in check if they hope to stop the opposing team’s offense. Thompson currently leads the conference in kills with 296, averaging 4.77 kills per set.

“Cincinnati is a pretty solid all-around team,” said head coach Kaddie Platt. “They have one big go-to hitter so we have to slow her down.”

The Cougars will try to keep the Bearcats offense out of whack with their conference-leading 100 aces in 65 sets, which is 37th in the nation with 1.54 aces per set.

Freshman libero Katie Karbo leads the Cougars with 19 aces and is third in the conference with 4.43 digs per set.

“We’re a good serving team so hopefully we can keep them out of system and know exactly where the ball is going,” Platt said. “If we can serve really tough we can take out the number of options they can run against us and put it down to one hitter and slow her down”

While the Bearcats are beating teams with their offense, the ECU Pirates have one of the top defenses in the conference. The Pirates lead the conference in both blocks and opponents hitting percentage.

Two of Pirates’ middle hitters, senior Ashley McRae and junior Natalie Montini, rank third and fourth in the conference in blocks per set with 1.16 and 1.07.

The Pirates enter the match at 11-5 after picking up their first conference victory of the season on Oct. 7. The game was a hard-fought 3-2 win over the University of Memphis Tigers.

“ECU is an aggressive-spirited team,” said Platt. “They do a lot of things offensively so for us it’s about being able to see what’s coming at us really quickly.”

First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday and noon on Sunday. Both games will be at the Athletics/Alumni Center.

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