Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Atlantic Sun Insider Debuts Digs and Kills

Atlantic Sun Conference volleyball spread out across 10 states during the opening weekend of play from Fort Myers to Seattle with preseason top-three choices Lipscomb, FGCU and Belmont, plus Kennesaw State all picking up two wins. The coaches and players expect big things this year and fans can browse some of the top notes, videos and storylines of the season by following “Digs and Kills” the weekly blog on A-Sun volleyball. If you attend a match, this week send us a photo of you and your friends … we’ll get it posted here and on our Facebook page!

Friendly Hosts
Belmont and FGCU hosted season-opening tournaments. The Bruins took down Miami (OH) and Jacksonville State with Tara Blood and Kayla Albritton making the All-Tournament Team. Watch the Bruins' highlights of the win against Redhawks here and check out the postmatch interviews here

FGCU opened with a victory against Bethune-Cookman and closed the weekend by topping Houston Baptist. Like the Bruins, the Eagles placed two, Camil Dominguez and Holly Youngquist on the All-Tournament Team.

Record-setting start for Owls
Kennesaw State surprised many last year in posting a 17-12 record. This year they look to build on that success and have started in the right direction, winning two of three matches at the Southern Miss/LaQuinta Inn Invitational. In the opening match, against Nicholls State, Sabrita Gulley set a school record with 18 kills in a three-set match only to see Alyssa Lang tally 19 kills against Southern Miss a day later.

Watch postgame interviews from the Nicholls State contest with Sara Metroka here and Sabrita Gulley here

Get healthy and we'll see ya in 2011
FGCU's challenge for the top spot suffered a set back even before the first serve was put in play as the team announced that All-Atlantic Sun outside hitter Jelena Simic would take a red-shirt year to continue her rehab from a knee injury suffered at last year's A-Sun Championships.

Facing the Best
For the first time in six years, a Campbell squad faced the top-ranked team in the nation when the volleyball team took on Penn State. At the 2004 NCAA Tournament, the Camels' women's soccer team squared off with No. 1 North Carolina.

Looking Ahead
Mercer and Stetson host weekend tournaments - both starting on Friday. Mercer welcomes Presbyterian, UT Martin and The Citadel as part of the sixth annual Bear Brawl. The Bears and Blue Hose only prior meeting came at the 2008 Bear Brawl (won by Mercer). The Hatters will entertain Bethune-Cookman, FAU and Wofford for the Clarion Invitational. Stetson and Bethune-Cookman have met 48 times, tied for the second-most played non-conference series in Stetson history.

Worth Quoting
“When you come and you’re a part of Lipscomb volleyball, you know that anything less than all out defense is not going to be accepted,” head coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “I expect each and every one of our players to play as hard as they can, and I think at the end of the day, they’ll appreciate it. Courtesy LipscombSports.com

“We started out slow again but we finally hit our rhythm and it was fun to watch,” Jacksonville head coach Shaun Kupferberg said . “With such a young team, you know there is going to be struggles but this group has the talent to do some things this year. It’s all of question of how long it will take for us to gel.” Courtesy JUDolphins.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Atlantic Sun Insider Debuts Free Kicks

Atlantic Sun Conference women’s soccer picked up eight wins on the opening weekend of the 2010 season highlighted by a 2-0-0 start from preseason favorite Kennesaw State. The coaches and players expect big things this year on the field and fans can browse some of the top notes, videos and storylines of the season by following “Free Kick” the weekly blog on A-Sun women’s soccer. If you attend a match, this week send us a photo of you and your friends … we’ll get it posted here and on our Facebook page!

Nice Debut
Kennesaw State christened the top facility in the conference with a 6-0 shutout of Alabama A&M in the inaugural regular-season college match at the new KSU Soccer Stadium. Over 600 fans came out to cheer on the Owls.The $16.5 million facility opened on May 2 and served as the home to the Atlanta Beat of Women’s Professional Soccer as well as hosting the league’s annual All-Star Game. Here are some highlights from the All-Star Game ...

Nice Debut – Part Duex
It took Rachel Collins about 90 minutes to write her name into the USC Upstate record book. The freshman goalkeeper piled up 14 saves in her collegiate debut with the Spartans to match the school record. First-year head coach Renee Lopez started seven freshmen in the 3-0 loss to Charleston Southern.

Close Matches Lean in Our Favor
Half of the A-Sun matches played so far this season have been one-goal affairs and the conference holds a 5-3-0 mark so far. Two of the league’s best players provided late heroics to lift their teams to wins. Two-time A-Sun Player of the Year Tessa Gavilsky scored with less than four minutes to play in a 4-3 Stetson win against FAU while preseason Player of the Year Jessica Hurtado assisted Liz Fink on the game winner in overtime to carry Jacksonville past Furman, 3-2.

Dynamic Duo
Speaking of Gavilsky, the Stetson sports information staff has dubbed her and teammate Katie Bitteto as the “Dynamic Duo.” Hard to argue after the seniors combined for two goals and three assists in the Hatters’ win over FAU on opening night.

Video Growth
Programs around the conference are utilizing video to promote their teams and provide better scouting reports. A number of A-Sun matches will be broadcast live on ASun.TV throughout the year. However, Mercer took it a step further this weekend, posting highlights of the team’s 4-0 rout of in-state rival Georgia Southern. Way to go Bears!

Looking Ahead
Kennesaw State plays in one of the top regular-season tournaments of the season this weekend at the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic in Knoxville. The Owls face Richmond in the opener before squaring off with No. 14 Maryland on Sunday. The host Tennessee broke into the top-10 in the NSCAA Regional Rankings this week as well.

Worth Quoting
"Obviously, we're thrilled with how everything has turned out. The stadium is fantastic, and we're very excited. Already, we can see (the excitement) in the girls. We've raised the level here, and they're matching it with their work ethic and discipline."

Kennesaw State head coach Rob King on the KSU Soccer Stadium – courtesy The Marietta Daily Journal

Did we miss a highlight from last week?

Friday, August 20, 2010

What were the A-Sun's Top Moments of 2009-10

Today begins the 33rd season of competition in the Atlantic Sun as nine women's soccer teams take to the pitch on Friday. Before putting the 2009-10 academic season to bed here's a look bad at some of the highlights from all 11 A-Sun schools.

In order of the Bill Bibb All-Sports Standings


The Buccaneers won their fourth consecutive Bill Bibb trophy and fifth straight Jesse C. Fletcher Trophy for the men's all-sports race. ETSU won two regular-season titles (women's basketball and women's tennis) and added four conference championship titles (men's basketball, women's basketball men's tennis and men's golf) to their growing trophy case.

Individually, Siarre Evans and TaRonda Wiles for women's basketball, Kenneth Rotich in men's cross country Duronal Monal in both men's indoor and outdoor track & field, Sander Gille in men's tennis and Paul Hoilman in baseball all won individual conference year-end superlative awards.

2. Kennesaw State

The Owls posted their best finish in the Bill Bibb standings on the strength of titles in men's cross country, men's indoor and outdoor track & field and taking both the regular season and conference championship title in women's soccer. The Owls won their first ever Sherman Day Trophy, winning the women's all-sports competition.

Individually, Bridget Gaughan for women's soccer and Joshua McNair at outdoor track & field won individual conference year-end superlative awards.

3. Campbell

The Camels took third in the Bill Bibb standings buoyed by a second-place showing the men's all-sports race. Men's soccer won the regular-season title for a second straight year and the men's basketball team won a share of the regular-season crown - it's first men's basketball regular-season title since joining NCAA I in 1977-78,.

Individually, Vince Petrasso in men's soccer, Junard Hartley in men's basketball and Robert Brunson at indoor track & field won individual conference year-end superlative awards.

4. Jacksonville

Jacksonville matched Kennesaw State for the conference lead in team conference titles, winning four. Like the Owls on the men's side, the Dolphins swept the women's running championships adding a first cross country title to fifth straight wins in indoor and outdoor track & field. Men's basketball won its second consecutive regular season title and made the NIT.

Individually, Shelley Walroth in volleyball, Charlene Charles and Joane Pierre at indoor track & field and Charles at outdoor track & field won individual conference year-end superlative awards.


The Eagles' two "fast-tracked" sports - volleyball and baseball - both qualified for their first A-Sun Championships. Baseball won its third consecutive regular-season title. Women's basketball opened the regular-season by beating UTEP in the Preseason NIT and closed the season with a third WNIT appearance.

Individually, Chris Sale dominated opposing hitters both in and out of conference play en route to becoming a consensus All-America pitcher, the National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball and a first-round pick by the Chicago White Sox.

6. UNF

UNF's spring proved fruitful as the women's tennis team won their first conference championship title and the men's golf team advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second time in program history. Both programs received Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association All-Sports Trophies.

Individually, Sean Dale in men's golf and Aline Berkenbrock for women's tennis won individual conference year-end superlative awards.

7. USC Upstate

The Spartans' men's tennis team won its second A-Sun regular-season title, in undefeated fashion, in three years. In its first year of eligibility for the A-Sun Championship, the Spartans' softball team advanced to the title game against Lipscomb.

Individually, Gilbert Kemboi won the Freshman of the Year honor in both cross country and indoor track & field Tee’Ara Copney earned the same honor in women's basketball.

8. Belmont

The Bruins shared a pair of regular-season titles during the season they claimed their first women's soccer title and their men's basketball crown in the previous five seasons.

Brittany Thune successfully defended her individual title in cross country, earning the Runner of the Year award. A pair of first-year Bruins, Brandon Tarr in men's soccer and Ian Clark in men's basketball each picked up the Freshman of the Year honor.

9. Stetson

The Hatters won a pair of Atlantic Sun Championships, claiming their second men's soccer title by besting Mercer and putting together a record-setting rally during the final round of Women's Golf Championship to defend their title.

Alexandria Buelow became the first women's golfer in league history to claim both the Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year awards. Robert Hodge won Defensive Player of the Year in men's soccer.

10. Mercer

The Bears ended a nine-year A-Sun Tournament Championship drought by winning their fifth baseball title and advancing to their first NCAA Championship. Mercer also advanced to the title game in men's soccer and men's basketball.

Courtney Ford earned the women's basketball Defensive Player of the Year award. Jacob Tanis led five Bears on the baseball All-Tournament team.

11. Lipscomb

Two Bisons teams turned in two of the most dominating seasons in their respective sports as the volleyball team went undefeated in 22 matches against league opposition and the softball team became only the fourth team in league history to win 50 games in a season. Adnan Hodzic and Josh Slater led Lipscomb to a share of the regular-season crown in men's basketball.

Alex Kelly, Whitney Kiihnl, Hodzic won Player of the Year honors in volleyball, softball and men's basketball. Kiihnl added the Pitcher of the Year and landed on the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American Team- the first time a Lipscomb athlete has earned All-American honors in the NCAA era.