December 4, 2013

GAME NOTES: Volleyball Set To Compete Against No. 6 Southern California In NCAA First Round, Dec. 5 (10:30 p.m.)


DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire volleyball team looks to contend with the host and sixth-seeded University of Southern California Women of Troy in the first round game of the 2013 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. UNH and USC will take the court at the Galen Center on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 10:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. PT) Colorado State University and California State University, Northridge play before UNH and USC at 7 p.m. (5 p.m. PT).

ON THE NATIONAL STAGE: The Pac-12 Networks will be on hand to broadcast the USC vs. New Hampshire match on Dec. 5 at 10:30 p.m. Anne Marie Anderson and Holly McPeak will provide play-by-play and color commentary from the sidelines.

SCOUTING USC: The Women of Troy received the sixth seed in the 2013 NCAA Division I Championship and will host the first and second round matches at the Galen Center this week. Entering its 23rd consecutive selection to the NCAA tournament and the 31st in program history, USC boasts a 115-34 all-time postseason record (.772). Furthermore, Southern California is 69-27 (.719) in the NCAA tournament. Overall, the Women of Troy have earned six national championships.

Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio leads Southern California offensively with 3.45 kills per set. Additionally, Bricio leads the nation in service aces, notching 74 this season. Supporting the offense, freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu tallies 3.38 kps and a .335 hitting percentage. Orchestrating the offense to a .281 clip, Hayley Crone played in every set this season and dishes out 6.49 assists per set. Senior libero Natalie Hagglund anchors the backline for the Women of Troy. Hagglund paces USC in digs with a 5.43 digs per set average. Defending the net, Alexis Olgard is the top blocker for Southern California. The 6-foot-5 senior middle blocker ranks 50th in Division I with 1.28 blocks per set. Overall, the Women of Troy hit for a .281 average while conceding a .178 clip.

THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: New Hampshire enters the 2013 NCAA Division I Championship for the fourth time in program history by virtue of the automatic bid for winning the America East Championships. The Wildcats started the conference tournament with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-17) victory against Stony Brook University in a Nov. 22 semifinal and 3-2 (22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 15-9) win vs. University Maryland, Baltimore County in the Nov. 23 championship match at UNH's Lundholm Gymnasium. Overall, UNH is 11-9 in the postseason (.550) and 0-3 in the NCAA tournament. Furthermore, New Hampshire has won its last nine matches and 27 of 33 sets.

Senior right side hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) paces the 'Cats in kills per set with a 3.07 average this season. Assisting the attack, Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) tallies 2.96 kps while chipping in 2.56 dps. Quarterbacking the offense to a .201 hitting percentage, Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) has passed out 9.67 aps this season. Hindering the opponents' attack to a .180 clip, sophomore defensive specialist Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) leads the way with 4.56 dps. Defending the net, right side hitter Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) boasts the America East's best block per set average to compile 1.04 bps.

AMERICA EAST ACCOLADES: Seven University of New Hampshire volleyball student-athletes, led by Player of the Year Morgan Thatcher were honored at the America East annual banquet that was held Thursday, Nov. 21 at Huddleston Hall on the UNH campus. Furthermore, head coach Jill Hirschinger and her coaching staff were bestowed the Coaching Staff of the Year award.

Hirschinger garnered her fifth America East Coaching Staff of the Year award with UNH. In her 18th season with the Wildcats, the head coach last received to the honor back in 2003. This season with Hirschinger at the helm, the 'Cats had a conference-best 12-2 record including a perfect 7-0 in America East play at Lundholm Gymnasium. 

New Hampshire tied the highest total members on the America East All-Conference First and Second Team with two on both. Representing the conference First Team honorees were senior right side hitter Thatcher and sophomore outside hitter Tori Forrest. The last time UNH was honored with two First Team selections dates back to 2007 (Kirsten Bates and Emmy Blouin). In addition, Forrest was the lone representative of the sophomore class on the First Team ballot. The America East Second Team includes junior setter Taylor Dunklau and senior right side hitter Destiny Tolliver. 

The Wildcats also placed freshman middle blocker Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.) to the All-Rookie team, marking the third time in four years UNH has had a student-athlete named to the conference All-Rookie team.

The 'Cats had the highest amount of student-athletes named to the America East All-Academic team with three, tying a program-best with the 2007 UNH volleyball team (Kristen Bated, Kate Uitti and Jessica Compton). Sophomore middle blocker Cassidy Croci (Sylvania, Ohio), junior defensive specialist Sam Henke (Millersville, Md.) and Forrest all earned their first-ever All-Academic awards.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. USC: The Wildcats and Women of Troy will meet for the second time in the all-time series. Southern California defeated New Hampshire on Dec. 5, 2003 in the NCAA tournament at the Galen Center in three sets (17, 30, 18-30, 17-30).

BACK TO THE DANCE: The Wildcats enter the NCAA Division Volleyball Championships for the fourth time in program history, all under Hirschinger. UNH has yet to win a game in its three previous appearances. The only time New Hampshire has won a set was against No. 10 Minnesota in a 3-1 (18-30, 30-28, 17-30, 21-30) loss on Dec. 5, 2002.

AMERICA EAST TEAMS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: America East teams have one win all-time in NCAA tournament play. In 2007, the University at Albany Great Danes topped the Cleveland State University Vikings in three sets.

TNT: Senior right side hitters Morgan Thatcher and Destiny Tolliver both recorded milestone marks this season. 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 1,060 kills and 2,971 attack attempts in her career, ranking fifth in both categories. Tolliver joined the 300 block club against Hartford (Oct. 13) and has accumulated 351 in her career, fourth in program history.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Tori Forrest (11) and Taylor Dunklau (4) and Destiny Tolliver (1) have all recorded double-double efforts this season. When a New Hampshire player reaches a double-double, the Wildcats are 10-3. In addition, the Wildcats are 2-1 when two players earn a double-double.

WINNING STREAK: UNH has won its last nine games entering the NCAA Tournament. Furthermore, the Wildcats have claimed 27 of the last 33 sets. In six of the matches, New Hampshire topped its opponent in straight sets. Currently, the nine-game winning streak is the sixth longest run in program history. The 2002 Wildcats who made it to the NCAA Tournament own the record.

BLOCK PARTY: The Wildcats earned a season-high 13 blocks in the conference semifinal win against Stony Brook. It marks the most blocks in a game since Oct. 13, 2012 at Hartford (17). Tolliver's eight blocks against the Seawolves was the most by a player in a three set match amongst conference participants. The senior followed up the performance with a 10-block performance against UMBC. Currently, Tolliver's 129 blocks is the fifth most by a Wildcat in a single season.

SHARING IS CARING:  Taylor Dunklau's 1,141 assists this season is the fifth most by a UNH volleyball player in a single season. In her three seasons at New Hampshire, the junior setter is third all-time in career assists with 2,092. 

DIG THIS: Madison Lightfoot snapped the single-game digs mark by tallying 39 in a five-set win against Binghamton (Nov. 17). Volunteer assistant coach Jessie Schnepp ' 13 previously held the record (38 digs at Villanova, Aug. 25, 2012) and Sara Heldman (38 digs vs. Stony Brook; Nov. 14, 2009). Furthermore, the defensive specialist is 20 digs away from matching Schnepp's single season digs mark of 560, which was set in 2012. 

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).

CALIFORNIA GIRLS: Two members of the University of New Hampshire volleyball team hail from the state of California. Sophomore outside hitter/right side hitter Elizabeth Kennerly (Westlake, Calif.) and Muses claim their hometown in the Golden State.

AN ELITE CLASS: Entering the 2013 season, head coaches Mick Haley (USC) and Jill Hirschinger (UNH) ranked amongst the top 15 in NCAA victories in wins that are among active coaches. Currently, Haley has recorded 862 wins while Hirschinger has tallied 695. Overall, the duo has combined for 1,557 wins in 65 seasons. 

WHAT'S NEXT?: The winner of the New Hampshire vs. USC first round game will play the winner of the Colorado State University and California State University, Northridge on Friday, Dec. 6 (10 p.m. ET) at the Galen Center.

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