GAME NOTES: Volleyball Set to Battle with Stony Brook in America East Championship Semifinal
DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team enters postseason play as the top seed as the Wildcats play host to Stony Brook University in the semifinal round of the America East Championships on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.
The other semifinal match features the second seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers against the University at Albany Great Danes on Friday as well scheduled for 4 p.m. The winner of the semifinal matches will compete in the conference championships on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.
SCOUTING STONY BROOK:
Stony Brook enters the postseason as the fourth seed with a 16-16 record overall and 9-5 in America East play.
Against the Friars, junior middle blocker Taylor Gille recorded 12 kills while constructing a .476 hitting percentage to lead the Seawolves to a 3-1 (25-19; 23-25, 25-19, 25-22) victory over Providence on Nov. 17. Sophomore setter Nicole Vogel earned her first double-double in the season finale on 20 assists and 11 digs. Lo Hathaway led the defensive effort with 12 digs to hinder the Friars to a .123 hitting percentage.
Leading SBU this season offensively, senior outside hitter Kaitlin Costello leads the team in kills with 386 and 3.19 kills per set. Following Costello on the attack is sophomore outside hitter, tagging 330 kills and 2.73 kills per set.
Directing the offense, junior setter Hannah Dolan has dished out 958 assists to compile 7.92 assists per set.
Defensively, sophomore libero Laura Hathaway leads the teams in digs with 518 and 4.25 per set. Guarding the net, Stephanie McFadden has recorded 120 blocks this season and is the only player averaging 1.01 blocks per set.
As a team, SBU is hitting at a .173 clip while surrendering a .201 hitting average. Furthermore, the Seawolves boasts the top serving team in the conference to strike 1.72 service aces per set. Both Dolan and McFadden each have notched an America East-best 50 aces this season.
Stony Brook boasts a 7-1 record at home while holding a 7-7 on the road.
THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: New Hampshire enters the playoffs as the number one seed, riding a seven-game winning streak. The Wildcats are coming off two consecutive home victories against America East foes Albany (3-2; 25-23, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, 15-10; Nov. 17) and Binghamton (3-2, 25-20, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23, 15-7; Nov. 17).
Four players registered double-digit kills against the Great Danes. Leading the offense, sophomore outside hitter Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) recorded a career-high 18 kills followed by senior right side hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass., 15), senior right side hitter Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich., 13) and sophomore right side hitter Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga., 12). Furthermore, Forrest notched her 11th double-double the season with 18 digs.
Quarterbacking the offense to a .208 hitting percentage, junior setter Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) also earned a double-double on 53 assists and 12 digs.
Defensively, Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) paced the 'Cats in digs (20) followed by Forrest (18), Sam Henke (Millersville, Md.; 15) and Dunklau (13) to curb the Great Danes to a .197 hitting percentage. Tolliver paced the effort near the net to rack up five total blocks.
In the match against Binghamton, Lightfoot snapped a program best 39 digs in a match. The record was previously set by Jessie Schnepp, who set the mark Aug. 25, 2012 at Villanova. Additionally, Schnepp shared the mark with Sara Heldman, who recorded 38 digs against Stony Brook at home on Nov. 14, 2009.
Forrest led the Wildcat offense with a career-high 19 kills accompanied by 11 digs to be followed by Thatcher with 15 kills on the strength of a .294 hitting percentage.
Orchestrating the attack to a .206 hitting percentage, Dunklau distributed 49 assists.
ALL-TIME SERIES vs. STONY BROOK: Against the Seawolves, the Wildcats are hold a .500 winning percentage with a 14-14 record overall. UNH split the season series with the Seawolves this season with each side winning at home. New Hampshire has topped SBU in its last six home contests.
Welcome to Lundholm: The Wildcats boast a 10-1 record at home this season and has yet to lose against an America East opponent in Lundholm Gymnasium. UNH has won a combined 30 sets while conceding just nine. The last time New Hampshire was defeated at home was Sept. 7 against Missouri State (0-3; 22-25; 22-25; 22-25) in the Holly Young Invitational.
UNH IN THE AMERICA EAST CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Wildcats return to the conference championships for the 12th time in program history and the fourth appearance in five years. In the America East Championships, New Hampshire is 9-8 overall. The last conference tournament win came against Northeastern in the 2003 championship game (3-2; 30-26, 30-17, 24-30, 32-30) to give the Wildcats their third NCAA Tournament berth. Head coach Jill Hirschinger has guided the 'Cats to all 12 of UNH's postseason appearances.
HOSTING THE CHAMPIONSHIP: The Wildcats are a perfect 6-0 when UNH hosts the conference tournament, earning three tournament championships. New Hampshire last hosted the championships back in 2003, topping Albany in the semifinals and Northeastern in the championship game.
19 STRAIGHT: UNH had a 19-set winning streak before it was snapped in the second frame at home against Albany on Nov. 15 New Hampshire would eventually defeat the Great Danes by a score of 3-2 (25-23, 19-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-10).
REWRITING THE BOOKS: Currently, three UNH volleyball players rank in the all-time top 10 in assists, blocks, kills and total attacks. Dunklau ranks third in program history, dishing out 1,916 assists. Tolliver joined the 300 block club against Hartford (Oct. 13) and has accumulated 333 in her career, fourth in program history. Becoming just the seventh member of the 1,000 kill club, Thatcher reached the milestone in a nine-kill performance at UMBC (Oct. 6). Thatcher has notched 1,134 kills and 2,909 attack attempts in her career, ranking fifth and seventh respectively.
UP NEXT: The winner of the Stony Brook and New Hampshire matchup will play either No. 3 Albany or No. 2 UMBC on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.