DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team hosts Brown, Missouri State and St. John's in the eighth annual Holly Young Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6-7.
The annual tournament is a long-standing tradition at UNH and is named after Holly Young, a former member of the Wildcat volleyball team who in 2008 lost her battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
The tournament will start with Missouri State (3-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley) and St. John's (3-1, 0-0 Big East) competing at 4:30 p.m. New Hampshire (2-2, 0-0 America East) will take the court at Lundholm Gymnasium for the first time this season at 7 p.m. against Brown (0-0, 0-0 Ivy). In day two, Missouri State and Brown clash at 10 a.m. followed by UNH and St. John's at 12:30 p.m. The Red Storm plays the third match of the day against Brown at 4:30 p.m. Missouri State and UNH concludes the tournament, playing in the "Pack the Arena Night" game at 7 p.m.
Pack the Arena: Saturday night's match against Missouri State marks the 13th straight "Pack the Arena Night" at Lundholm Gymnasium. In that span, attendance at the event has averaged over 1,200, with an all-time high of 2,415 coming in 2005 against PAC-12 foe Stanford. The original attendance record was established in 2000 when 1,949 people packed into Lundholm Gymnasium when the event was first established. UNH is hoping to break the mark of 2,415 in this year's event.
All-Time Series: The Wildcats have played Brown and St. John's in the past, posting records of 6-9 and 1-1 against the schools respectively. Missouri State and New Hampshire will be competing for the first time in program history.
Scouting Brown (Friday, 7 p.m.): The Brown volleyball team opens its 2013 season at the Holly Young Invitational. Last season, the Bears finished 7-17 overall and 3-11 in Ivy League play. The last time the two teams faced each other was Sept. 12 at UNH in which the Wildcats prevailed in four sets. Brown returns a majority of their statistical leaders from the 2012 season, including junior outside hitter Maddie Lord (2.84 kps), junior libero Kathryn Conner (4.99 dps) and senior setter Alexandra Rieckhoff (5.78 aps).
Scouting St. John's (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.): St. John's enters this weekend with a 3-1 record coming off a straight set win against Siena at home on Tuesday. Before Siena, the Red Storm participated in the Colgate Classic, tallying a pair of four set wins over Binghamton and Central Connecticut and suffering a straight-set loss to host Colgate. Offensively, sophomore outside hitter Karin Palgutova paces the Red Storm attack, averaging 4.43 kps. Sophomore libero Shawna-Lei Santos spearheads the defensive effort, posting 4.71 dps while sophomore setter Deniz Mutlugil orchestrates the passing, dishing out 9.79 aps. As a team, St. John's is hitting at a .232 clip while opponents are hitting just at a percentage of .189.
Scouting Missouri State (Saturday, 7 p.m.): The Bears have tallied 14 consecutive winning seasons and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances; boast a 3-1 mark thus far this season. Missouri State has tallied wins against Northeastern, No. 22 Dayton, and Northern Illinois while falling to Tulsa. Earning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week honors, junior middle blocker Kaitlin Jaeger leads the offense, averaging 2.69 kps. Senior libero Ashley Mason paces the backcourt defensively, posting 5.31 dps while senior setter Carly Thomas directs the offense, accumulating 11.12 aps. The Bears are hitting at a .191 percentage this season, while opponents are hitting at a .182 percentage.
The State of New Hampshire: The UNH volleyball team opened the 2013 campaign, taking two of three matches at the Lehigh Classic. New Hampshire overcame host Lehigh in five sets and trounced Saint Peter's in straight sets. However, Rhode Island outlasted the 'Cats in a close five-set match. Following the tournament, the Wildcats traveled to Northeastern, getting the better of UNH in a 3-1 defeat.
Right side hitter and senior co-captain Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) is at the helm of the offensive attack, averaging 3.18 kps this season. Fellow classmate, right side hitter and co-captain Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) has been a force on defense, averaging 1.24 blocks per game. Tolliver registered nine of her 12 solo blocks against Saint Peter's, a career high. Outside hitter Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) paces the Wildcats in digs, registering 2.35 dps while setter Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) has tallied 7.71 aps in four games.
Thatcher Named America East Player of the Week: Thatcher claimed the first America East Player of the Week award in the 2013 season, pacing the conference with 44 kills in the Lehigh Classic. She paced the team in kills in all three games, leading UNH to a pair of wins in the tournament. Currently, the co-captain stands 10th all-time, tallying 873 career kills.
League Leaders: As a team, New Hampshire leads the America East in hitting percentage (.217), opponent hitting percentage (.175) and blocks per game (2.24). Individually, Thatcher ranks first in kills (54) and tied for first in kills per set (3.18), while Tolliver leads America East with 21 blocks.
Due Next: After the conclusion of the Holly Young Invitational, New Hampshire will remain in Durham to host Bryant on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.