Sept. 24, 2013
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va – Marshall volleyball will open Conference USA play this weekend when it travels to Florida Atlantic (7-5) on Friday and FIU (6-6) on Sunday.
“This is always an exciting time of the year and this year even more so,” coach Mitch Jacobs remarked. “It’s been a while since we’ve had so many different teams on the schedule. I think it’s going to be very exciting for our upperclassmen as well since they will be going to new places.”
Marshall enters the weekend 6-9 after defeating Maryland in the last match of the Michigan Invitational last Saturday. The Herd is led by senior outside hitter, Laura Der (Clarksville, Ind.), who has recorded 102 kills, averaging 2.83 per set and 115 digs. Marshall has been getting outstanding play from a pair of trio of freshmen Cassie Weaver (Huntington), Elyse Panick (Chicago) and Ally Kiekover (Grand Rapids, Mich.). Kiekover leads the team with 144 kills while Weaver has tallied 114 and Panick has 104.
Freshman outside hitter Panick earned her first all-tournament honors in the Michigan Invitational. During the tournament, she recorded 30 kills and 17 digs with her best performance coming in the upset win over Maryland where she tallied 16 kills while hitting .270 and 15 digs.
“We are opening against two good opponents that we have never seen before,” Jacobs commented. "Both are playing well right now and I hope we can go on the road and hopefully steal a win or two.”
A Look at the Opponents
Scouting the Owls
Florida Atlantic enters the weekend 7-5 after winning its last match against former Conference USA foe UCF. The Owls are led by junior outside hitter Alessia Pizzoccheri, who has tallied 92 kills and 115 digs while junior middle blocker Ivana Bulajic has chipped in with 90 kills and 25 total blocks, 22 assisted and 3 solo. The Owls are led by second year head coach Fernanda Nelson. The Herd owns a 1-0 all-time record against FAU.
Scouting the Panthers
FIU enters the weekend 6-6 after falling to Purdue this past Saturday. The Panthers are led by junior outside hitter Ksenia Sukhareva who has tallied 143 kills, averaging 3.18 per set with a 107 digs. Senior middle blocker Kimberly Smith leads the team with a .383 hitting percentage while earning 134 kills and 48 total blocks, 40 assisted and eight solo. The Panthers are led by second year head coach Rita Buck-Crockett who also serves as the school’s assistant athletic director and the head coach of the sand volleyball program. The two schools have never played against each other.