Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hometown Fans Cheer on a Champion

In the previous 20 Atlantic Sun Men's Cross Country Championships, at only one, the 2004 race, had the hosting school also produced the individual champion. On Saturday, as USC Upstate hosted its first A-Sun Championship in any sport, fans of the Spartans witnessed sophomore Gilbert Kemboi leave the rest of the field in his wake in one of the most dominating performances in Championship history.

Kemboi turned in the third-fastest time in conference history and won by a whopping 41 seconds - a winning margin not seen in the A-Sun since Georgia State's Andrew Letherby won the second of his three A-Sun titles in 1996.

Campbell's Terence Attema hung with Kemboi through the first mile of the race, but as the competition drew on, Kemboi built up his lead to such margins that the home stretch was little more than a coronation for the man whose year concludes with four individual titles and an eye-popping 755-2 record in head-to-head competition.

"It was very fantastic having all these fans cheering," Kemboi said. "It kept me pushing and pushing. I was watching my watch and I knew I was very close [to the course record]. That's what I was after. I missed it by something like six seconds but I still have time to do something about that."

Only a third-place showing at the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic (where he finished less than two second behind the winner) prevented Kemboi from putting together a perfect season.

"Gilbert's an amazing athlete...he's the leader of our team," USC Upstate head coach Jimmy Stephens. "This year he stepped up and won every race, except for Louisville where he was third and was leading that race with 200 meters to go. On his home course, I knew he would step up."

In winning A-Sun Runner of the Year, Kemboi became just the fourth Spartan in the program's four-year history in the conference to garner a conference superlative award. Emily Tangwar won Track Athlete of the Year at the 2008 Indoor Track & Field Championship, Anna Novo picked up the Player of the Year in women's tennis in 2008, Morgan Childers received the softball Pitcher of the Year award in 2008, and Perrish Goggins earned Field Athlete of the Year at the 2009 Indoor Track & Field Championships.

With two years in Spartanburg still in front of Kemboi and the Spartans gaining access to NCAA Championships in one year, opportunities exist for Kemboi to chisel his name into both A-Sun and USC Upstate lore.

"Next year when we are NCAA eligible, we're going to shoot for nationals," Stephens said. "We're looking for people to push him and make him better. He's just going to continue to get better because his work ethic is amazing."

Patient Building Process Works for Ospreys

A lot of prognosticators saw the Atlantic Sun Women’s Cross Country Championship trophy staying in Jacksonville for another year … but not many of them predicted the UNF Ospreys emerging the ones taking it with them.

The Ospreys swooped into Spartanburg as a confident bunch that knew a title was within their reach if everyone performed at their anticipated level, even if their coach wasn’t quite as relaxed.

“I was a basket-case the whole race but tried to project a confident image,” UNF head coach Mark VanAlstyne observed. “Honestly, we performed exactly the way we wanted to. Everyone just did what they needed to do and followed the plan.”

While UNF placed four runners in the top 12, one of the key performances came from Kayla Conrad who bested her fastest 5K of the season by over a minute to finish 24th and help the team out-last runner-up Lipscomb. With Conrad anchoring the scoring runners, sophomore Shelby Kittrell did exactly what everyone expected - race at the front of the pack. Kittrell chased winner Mackenzie Howe around nearly the whole course, giving herself a chance to overtake the favorite in the final 100 meters before settling for runner-up finish.

“I didn’t feel any more pressure than anyone else,” Kittrell said. We went into the race knowing what we needed to do for each other. We like being together and connect really well.”

The arduous transition from Division II to Division I had taken its toll on the program and returning to a position as conference front-runner has taken some time. However, UNF does not feature a senior on its roster and the results of focused recruiting paid off on the course.

“It has been a process; the transition from Division II to I is worse than anyone says,” VanAlstyne reflected. “A couple years ago we started this recruiting process with Kayla and Erin…before adding Meggie and Shelby last year. The pieces have just been falling into place.”

A record seven runners broke the 18-minute barrier in this race including a pair of Osprey sophomores. Does this set the Ospreys up as the next potential women’s cross country dynasty? VanAlstyne acknowledges that it will not be easy in this new-look A-Sun.

“It scares me because I look at Lipscomb’s young crew and all the other youth in the league,” he said. “A few of our coaches were talking about the transformation the A-Sun has seen the last few years. When we joined the league, the good teams had three runners breaking 19 minutes. Now if you want a chance to win, you better have that many breaking 18 minutes. The bar has definitely been raised.”

Well at least for a little while, UNF can enjoy its perch atop the A-Sun.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The VolleyBlog - October 26th Edition

After a week-long break from conference play, the push towards making the six-team Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championship in Fort Myers, Fla., begins again with nine league games slated for the weekend. The conference's top teams could lock in their spots by the end of play on Saturday. If you have ways we can improve the VolleyBlog, we'll take all suggestions in our comments section, through our Facebook page or via Twitter.

ETSU Returns to 20-Win Status
With sweeps against Wofford and Presbyterian, ETSU became the first A-Sun school reach 20 wins. The Bucs last won 20 games in 2006 when they finished 25-7. ETSU joins only 13 schools in country to have reached that mark already in 2010. The Atlantic Sun has featured multiple 20-win teams in nine of the previous 10 years and Lipscomb stands as the favorite to join ETSU. The Lady Bisons enter the week 16-6 with six regular-season games remaining.

Mercer's Hurley at Near-Record Clip
In Mercer's four-set victory against Florida A&M, senior Krista Hurley totaled 12 kills - a number alone that would not pop out - when upon seeing her chances total, 14, and the following hitting percentage, a staggering .857, suddenly its a note worth talking about. No player in the conference had posted as high a percentage (with at least 12 kills) since Belmont's Jaye Schuler hit an equal .857 (12-0-14) against Stetson on Sept 29, 2006. A former Bear, Andrea Shipley, holds the conference record of .923 (12-0-13) set against Alabama A&M on October 30, 2002.

A Grand Achievement
Two A-Sun volleyball players reached career milestones during the past week. In Jacksonville's contest with Seattle, the Dolphins' Aidan Yeager surpassed 1,000 kills for her career. In the same Mercer match in which Hurley posted her. 857 hitting percentage, her teammate, Aimee Frutchey, became the 6th in school history to total 1,000 digs.

20-20 Vision
Campbell's Allyson Goldbach won the league's Player of the Week award after posting the league's third 20-20 performance of the year. Against Coastal Carolina she totaled 21 kills and 23 digs. The conference's two other 20-20 games came in the first weekend of the season. Lipscomb's Alex Kelly collected 20 kills and 21 digs against Kansas and FGCU's Camil Dominguez tallied 21 digs and 41 assists against FAU.

First Clinchings
The first spots for next month's A-Sun Championship could be secured by the end of the weekend. At 5-0, Lipscomb has the easiest path. Wins against UNF and Jacksonville will allow the Lady Bisons a chance to defend their crown in Fort Myers, Fla. At 5-1 and in second place, Kennesaw State would be in with a win at Campbell and a loss by FGCU, UNF, and a second loss by Campbell. ETSU could return to the field after a one-year absense with two wins, and a loss by UNF and two losses by Campbell or Jacksonville. If your head hurts, just follow throughout the weekend and check for the magic clinching "*" to appear next to your favorite team.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Extra Time - Women's Edition

Tournament time is here. The most important match of the regular season will take place for some this weekend. Let’s take a look at how the championship field is setting up. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media sites ( & as well.

Regular Season Title
It’s down to two teams for the regular season title. FGCU leads Jacksonville by one point heading into the final match of the year, so they control their own destiny. An Eagles win over Stetson on Saturday will hand the four-year old program their first regular season trophy. Jacksonville has to have an FGCU loss and either a win (outright champ) or tie (co-champ) against UNF to claim a piece of the title.

No. 1 Seed - Jacksonville
Jacksonville locked up the top seed last week and will host the semifinals and championship match on Nov. 4-6. The No. 1 seed owns a 17-2-4 all-time mark in tournament play and has reached the title game 10 times in the last 11 years.

No. 2 Seed – UNF, Mercer or Kennesaw State
The race for the No. 2 seed and a bye into the semifinals is wide open as UNF, Mercer and Kennesaw State all have legitimate chances to claim that advantage. UNF and Mercer are tied at 18 points in the standings while Kennesaw State lurks with 16 points. A UNF win against JU is the easiest path for the Ospreys to be the No. 2, but UNF will also take that spot with a tie and a Mercer-Kennesaw State draw. The Bears need a win against the Owls and an Osprey tie or loss while KSU’s route to the bye needs a UNF tie or loss and a victory against Mercer.

No. 3 Seed – UNF, Mercer or Kennesaw State
A first round home match is the reward for earning the No. 3 seed. All three teams in the running for the two-seed are in the mix for third as well. UNF stands in this spot with a loss for sure while a tie coupled with a Mercer win also relegates the Ospreys to the No. 3 seed. Mercer would be the three seed with a UNF win and either a win or draw versus KSU. The Owls will be the three seed with a victory against the Bears joined with a draw for the Ospreys.

No. 4 Seed – Mercer, Kennesaw State or Stetson
The other first round home site is on tap for the fourth-seeded team. A Mercer loss leaves the Bears as the No. 4 seed. Kennesaw State will be the No. 4 seed with a tie or a loss coupled with a Stetson loss to FGCU. The Hatters claim the fourth seed with a win against the Eagles and a loss by the Owls.

No. 5 Seed – Kennesaw State, Stetson or ETSU
Kennesaw State lands in the fifth seed only if Stetson defeats FGCU and the Owls tie or lose to Mercer. Stetson would be the No. 5 seed with a win and a Kennesaw State win or draw or with a loss and an ETSU loss to USC Upstate. The Lady Bucs can claim the No. 5 seed with a win and a Stetson loss or tie.

No. 6 Seed – Stetson, ETSU or Campbell
The idle Camels will be the No. 6 seed with an ETSU loss to USC Upstate. Stetson lands sixth if the Hatters lose or tie against FGCU and the Lady Bucs win. ETSU claims this spot if they win and Stetson earns a point versus FGCU.

Eliminated – Belmont, UNF and Lipscomb
Belmont is eliminated despite the fact they can reach 12 points because the Bruins lose the tie-breaker with Campbell due to a 1-0 Camels win in September.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Men's Soccer Extra Time - Oct. 20th

Just 16 days away from kick-off of the 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Soccer Championship and all nine eligible teams still have a chance to make the tournament. FGCU leads the way with an undefeated mark, but are ineligible for the conference tournament, while the other nine teams will battle it out over the next two weekends for the six spots.

Real Men Wear Pink
In association with National Cancer Awareness Month, the Atlantic Sun Conference men’s soccer programs have partnered with the Coaches vs. Cancer Foundation. In the five A-Sun men’s soccer contests played on Thursday and Friday, all players competing will be wearing pink armbands and tape, while the coaches will be showing support by wearing pink polo shirts on the sidelines.

Sunshine State Showdown
On Friday, October 22nd Stetson travels to Fort Myers, Fla. for a match against the top two teams in the conference when they square off against FGCU. The Hatters stand at 5-1 in the conference and the Eagles have an unblemished 6-0 mark. With an Eagles victory, FGCU will clinch the regular season title in only its fourth year of men’s soccer existence, while a Hatters victory puts Stetson in the lead to host the A-Sun Tournament as well as win the regular season crown.

Three A-Sun Teams Ranked Regionally
In the latest edition of the NSCAA South Region Poll, three squads from the A-Sun appeared in the top-10 with FGCU leading the way in sixth, ETSU rebounding back into the polls at eighth and Mercer jumping into the poll for the first time this season at tenth. The Hatters, who were ranked last week, were also one of three teams to receive votes in the coaches’ ranking.

Longest Win Streak Belongs to Nashville
After FGCU fell to Florida Atlantic on Tuesday, the claim for the longest winning streak moved from Florida to the campus of Lipscomb in Tennessee. The Bisons, who started the conference slate with two losses, have won their last three games by a combined score of 13-6 and were led by A-Sun Player of the Week Joey Chiappetta, who registered six points against rival Belmont in a 6-2 victory against the Bruins.

Points Chase Plot Thickens
Belmont’s Brandon Tarr held a two-point lead going into play last weekend in the Atlantic Sun Points lead, but after only tallying one point on an assist his lead was cut in half as Stetson’s Fredrik Brustad jumped up to 17 points, while teammates at Jacksonville Darko Karamatic and Nedim Hrustic are tied for third place with 16 points apiece.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The VolleyBlog - October 19th Edition

Atlantic Sun Volleyball hits its own fall break as the conference takes a week off from conference play here in the middle of the round-robin season. Three schools, Belmont, FGCU and Kennesaw State won't play at until league play resumes on Friday, October 29. With everybody having played five or six conference games, the league races at the top and in the jumble for championship seeding are starting to take shape. Which matchups or storylines are you most interested in following the final 30 days of the regular season? Tell us through Facebook, Twitter or in our comments section.

Georgia, Tennessee Assert Dominance
For 200 years, Georgia and Tennessee have undergone a border dispute revolving around the Tennessee River and drinking water. This fun fact was a way to connect US history to A-Sun volleyball as the conference's five Georgia and Tennessee schools (Kennesaw State, Mercr, ETSU, Lipscomb and Belmont) combined to go 8-0 on the weekend and currently own the top five spots in the conference standing. Lipscomb and Belmont both beat Campbell; Mercer and Kennesaw State took down FGCU and Stetson and ETSU picked up two wins in Jacksonville.

It Bears Repeating
For the first in almost two years, Mercer won both league matches on consecutive weekends. In improving to 4-2, the Bears are off to their best 6-game A-Sun start since a 5-1 run to open 2007. Libero Charlotte Harris won the Bears' first Player of the Week award of 2010 (and first since Rachel Urbelis won last October 26). She totaled 59 digs in the wins against FGCU and Stetson. In the four-set win against the Hatters, she recorded 39, one shy of the league's four-set record in conference games. She paces the conference in digs with 436 and rank in the top 30 in the nation in digs per set, 5.19.

Three A-Sun Schools Entertain Seattle
As part of this non-conference weekend, three of the A-Sun's Florida schools welcome in the Seattle University Redhawks. On Thursday, UNF serves as host followed by Jacksonville one night later. The three-day event concludes in DeLand when Stetson welcomes in the 10-12 Redhawks. Seattle U picked up a victory against Mercer in the season-opening invitational at Seattle.

River City Rumble Prequel
Before facing Seattle, Jacksonville and UNF will meet in an non-conference River City Rumble on Tuesday from Jacksonville's Swisher Gymnasium. If the Dolphins can match the intensity of their mascot, Dunk'n, they could make short work of their crosstown rival.

Bisons in Rarefied Company
In addition to boasting the conference's lone unbeaten record, Lipscomb leads the A-Sun in hitting percentage, assists per set, kills per set and digs per set. Only two other school in the country and lay claim to the same distinction. In the America East Conference, Albany leads in all four categories as does Yale out of the Ivy League.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Extra Time - Women's Edition

Two weeks from the tournament starting and things are beginning to take shape. Today’s Extra Time will focus on the postseason implications of the weekend plus a look at a couple outstanding individual performances. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media sites ( & as well.

River City Rules
With three matches left for most teams, the River City rivals Jacksonville and UNF sit in the cat-bird’s seat. Without diving too deeply into tie-breaking scenarios, a JU win over Campbell tonight would mean that only the Dolphins and Ospreys would still be alive to host the A-Sun Championship Final Four. If UNF manages at least a draw with Campbell on Saturday, the two rivals would play a winner-take all match at Hodges Stadium on Oct. 22 for the No. 1 seed at the championship and possibly a conference title.

Dolphins Aim for Regular Season Title
In 2000, JU put together one of the most dominating seasons in A-Sun history, posting a 9-0-0 conference record and a 19-3-0 regular season mark. In the nine seasons since, the Dolphins have not finished higher than third. Every match will take on increased importance as the Dolphins (19 points) try to claim the league title as UNF (18 points) and FGCU (17 points) are breathing down JU’s neck. Coach Brian Copham’s squad faces Campbell tonight at 7:00pm. The match will be carried live on ASun.TV.

Ospreys Lurking
UNF’s only match this week will be a Saturday night game with Campbell also carried live on ASun.TV.

The Ospreys are lurking behind league leader JU and just ahead of challenger FGCU. Standing at 6-2-0 in conference play, UNF needs just one win to set a new school record for A-Sun victories in a single season. After missing the postseason in their first year of eligibility, UNF controls its own destiny in search of the top seed in this year’s tourney.

FGCU Still Has Title Hopes
FGCU seemed to be on track for the team’s first A-Sun title when they were stone-walled by USC Upstate keeper Rachel Collins in a 0-0 tie in Spartanburg. The Eagles out-shot the Spartans 25-4 in the match, but could not get one past Collins. The tie left FGCU two points behind league-leader Jacksonville. The advantage the Eagles own is as still the league’s only unbeaten team (5-0-2) and have three matches (all at home) remaining on the schedule as opposed to two for both JU and UNF. FGCU is 7-1-2 in their last 10 matches and are receiving votes in the NSCAA Regional Rankings.

Collins Makes Case for Freshman of the Year
Rachel Collins, who cemented her name in the USC Upstate record books a few times over the weekend, helped the Spartans earn double-overtime draws against Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast. Collins is currently riding a shutout streak of 247:10 which is the longest such streak since the 2004 season when Diana Wabnitz posted a streak of 407:23 (Sept. 9, 2004 – Oct. 6, 2004). Her 103 saves through 15 matches leads the A-Sun, while placing her second in saves in a single-season D-I era, fourth for saves in a single season in program history and fifth for saves in a career. With the two shutouts, Collins increased her season total to three, which is the most in D-I history, third-best in a career and fifth-most in school history during a single-season. Collins' two ties puts her first in D-I history, while placing her in a tie for first in program history (single-season), she also ranks third for ties in a career.

Worth Quoting
"I am proud of our girls today as the battled throughout the entire match. Our team has believed in itself and that really showed today as we earned a double-overtime draw against the first-place team in the Atlantic Sun, FGCU. No one expected us to compete today or Friday night, but our girls played their hearts out and we look to continue to build on our success as we travel to Kennesaw State and Mercer next weekend. “

Renee Lopez – USC Upstate Head Coach

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Men's Soccer Extra Time - Oct. 13th

Two weekends into the A-Sun men’s soccer season and two teams remain undefeated at 4-0, Stetson and FGCU, who both posted wins over USC Upstate and ETSU over the weekend. This weekend marks the halfway point of the conference season so make sure to tune into ASun.TV to follow your favorite team.

A-Sun Well Represented in the Polls
The NCAA released the first edition of the men’s soccer RPI and six A-Sun teams saw their names appear in the top-100, while five were in the top-80. FGCU led the way with their 21st place ranking standing at 8-2-2 on the season. Following the Eagles are ETSU at 51st, Stetson at 68th, Campbell at 77th, Mercer at 78th and Lipscomb in 93rd. To go along with the RPI ranking, FGCU improved its ranking in the Soccer America poll this week from 25th to 24th, while Stetson jumped into the NSCAA South Region poll at No. 10, which makes the Hatters the fourth conference team to appear in the poll this season.

Jones and Asare-Bediako Make National Teams of the Week
FGCU’s Deion Jones and Stetson’s Ryan Asare-Bediako were rewarded for their play over the weekend as they were named to the and National Teams of the Week, respectively. Jones scored two goals for the 24th-ranked Eagles as well as adding an assist, while Asare-Bediako, who also won the A-Sun Player of the Week award, posted game-winning goals in both of Stetson’s games including an overtime golden goal against USC Upstate.

Former Belmont Star Plays for D.C. United
J.P. Rodrigues participated in his first Major League Soccer match on Saturday. Rodrigues was called in on loan for D.C. United's contest against the San Jose Earthquakes. Rodrigues is in Washington as a guest player with the Black-and-Red. One of the all-time great Bruin players, Rodrigues was a two-time NSCAA/adidas All-South Region Team honoree (2004, 2005) and the 2005 Atlantic Sun Conference Defender of the Year.

Points Chase Sees Another Change
Belmont’s Brandon Tarr went into last weekend trailing Stetson’s Jonathan Mendoza by three points for the Atlantic Sun points lead, but left the weekend with a two-point lead after scoring three goals for the Bruins. Tarr now stands at 17 points (6G, 5A) ahead of Mendoza’s 15 (3G, 9A) and Jacksonville’s Nedim Hrustic and Stetson’s Fredrik Brustad, who both have 14 points.

Big Games This Weekend
There are several key games this weekend as Stetson and FGCU try to keep their undefeated marks alive as they travel to face Mercer and Campbell, while crosstown rivals Belmont and Lipscomb jockey for position as both teams stand at 2-2 in the league. ETSU tries to get back on the winning track with Jacksonville and UNF after dropping two matches the past weekend.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The VolleyBlog - October 12th Edition

This weekend serves as the halfway point of the A-Sun Volleyball schedule, which means we are a little over a month away from the A-Sun Volleyball Championship in Fort Myers, Fla., hosted by FGCU at Alico Arena. Five conference matches are slated to be broadcasted on ASun.TV so make sure to tune in.

With the recent losses of Penn State and North Dakota State in conference play, Lipscomb currently owns the longest conference regular season winning streak in the nation at 29 games. The Lady Bisons undefeated streak dates back to November 1, 2008 when they defeated Campbell, 3-0. In the four league games so far Lipscomb has only dropped one set – to USC Upstate in their last match – faces Campbell, who is currently tied for second in the conference at 3-1, on Saturday.

Along with Lipscomb, four total teams went 2-0 last weekend in the second week of conference play. Mercer and Kennesaw State both staked sweeps over Jacksonville and UNF, while Campbell won two games against Stetson and FGCU. The Owls’ victory against the Dolphins was the first in the program’s history, while Mercer battles back in both matches after dropping the opening sets. Campbell’s victory against FGCU was the first in program history, while the triumph against Stetson gave the Camels six wins in the last eight games.

Kennesaw State’s Alyssa Lang led the Owls to a undefeated weekend with her outstanding play, which led to the junior claiming the A-Sun Volleyball Player of the Week honor. Lang powered home 21 kills against UNF to tie the KSU school record for kills in a three-set match and set the record for the most in an A-Sun conference match in the 25-point era. The Richmond, Va. native also posted double-doubles in both of the conference matches for kills and digs.

With a 16-6 record and 10 games remaining in their schedule, ETSU has already surpassed the 2009 win total of 11. The Bucs have seven conference games left on the schedule and also face Wofford, Presbyterian and Western Carolina to wrap up their non-conference schedule. Megan Devine, Erin Ryan and Alysa Long lead ETSU in kills with 215, 188 and 179 respectively, while Long also possesses 100 total blocks, which leads the conference.

Here is the ASUN.TV slate for the weekend:
Friday, October 15th
Campbell at Belmont - 6:30 p.m.
ETSU at Jacksonville - 7 p.m.
USC Upstate at UNF - 7 p.m.

Saturday, October 16th
USC Upstate at Jacksonville - 3 p.m.
ETSU at UNF - 3 p.m.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Extra Time - Women's Soccer: Oct. 7th

A new week, a new name for our soccer blog … welcome to Extra Time! If we aren’t covering an angle that needs more light, let us know. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media sites ( & as well.

Sunshine State Surge
The A-Sun’s four Florida teams posted a combined 8-0-0 record and now occupy the top-four spots in the conference standings. The team’s outscored their opposition (Kennesaw State, Mercer, ETSU & USC Upstate) 24-3 in the eight wins. Let’s take a closer look at each team …

FGCU Soars to Top of Standings
The Eagles swept Mercer and Kennesaw State in a pair of thrilling 1-0 decisions to climb into a tie with Jacksonville for the league lead with 13 points. With the sweep, the fourth-year program nearly broke into the NSCAA/ regional rankings, joining NC State as others receiving votes. Senior Lindsay Haw scored the game-winner in both matches while the defense led by KC Correlus allowed just eight shots this weekend. The Eagles have surrendered just one goal in conference play and none in the last 281 minutes of action.

JU Makes Their Case
Jacksonville claimed its share of the league lead by dispatching ETSU and USC Upstate this weekend. The Dolphins are 5-1-1 in their last seven matches with the only set-back being a 1-0 loss to Mercer. The offense erupted on Senior Weekend with eight goals, but it was junior Liz Fink who was the big gun, netting three herself.

UNF Aiming for First Postseason Appearance
UNF took a big step towards securing the program’s first A-Sun Championship appearance after shutting out ETSU and USC Upstate. The team’s rigorous non-conference schedule seems to have prepared them well for A-Sun play. Lauren Hopfensberger is making a strong case for Freshman of the Year honors in the conference, scoring four more goals this weekend to push her league-leading total to seven. The Ospreys 4-2-0 start in conference play is the team’s best since joining the A-Sun.

Stetson Offense Firing on All Cylinders
After scoring just 13 goals in the team’s first 10 matches, Stetson exploded for 13 goals over its last three to help the team vault into a tie for fourth place in the standings. For the first time since Kennesaw State joined the league in 2005, the Hatters swept the conference weekend against the Owls and Mercer. Player of the Year candidate Tessa Gavilsky scored three goals and added an assist, running her league leading point total to 19.

Don’t Forget the Camels
While the Sunshine Four were making big moves this weekend, Campbell made a statement of their own, blanking Belmont and Lipscomb to work their way back into the postseason hunt.

Worth Quoting
“We played well. I thought we played a better second half, but I thought we did okay in the first as well. We’re really starting to find our rhythm. Any weekend you can come away with two wins is a good weekend so I’m very, very happy for the girls and excited for, hopefully, the position this puts us in to make the conference tournament. That’s our goal and the win puts us one step closer. I just think our dangerous players are starting to get more and more confidence. These are players that I’ve watched for a couple of years and always thought they’ve been amazing players. Lauren’s playing absolutely fantastic right now and things are starting to come together for us. It’s a good weekend; we’re going to enjoy it.”

Linda Hamilton – UNF Head Coach

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Men's Soccer Extra Time - October 6th

Last week was the beginning of the A-Sun Conference Season for men's soccer and four teams came away with unblemished records. As we go into week two of conference play it shall be interesting to see who rebounds from early season losses and who can keep their winning streaks alive.

Undefeated Starts
Four teams started the Atlantic Sun Conference season with unblemished records as Stetson, FGCU and ETSU won both of their matchups, while Jacksonville won its lone contest. The Hatters and Eagles went on the road to defeat Belmont and Lipscomb, while ETSU defeated Campbell and Mercer. Jacksonville opened conference play with the River City Rumble and came away with a 1-0 victory against UNF.

ETSU and FGCU Gain More Ranking Recognition
FGCU earned a national ranking in the Soccer America poll coming in at No. 25, while also earning six votes in the NSCAA National Coaches Poll. To go along with its national ranking, the Eagles continued to be ranked in the South Region Poll along with ETSU. Both teams dropped one spot in the rankings to seventh and ninth despite winning both of their games in the week. The Eagles are the first ranked team for the A-Sun since Campbell in 2008.

Campbell – Mr. Team October?
The Fighting Camels have been spectacular in the month of October traditionally as Campbell has posted a 21-2-3 record in its last 26 games. During that time, Campbell’s offense has nearly doubled its opponent’s goals, 50-26. So far in October, the Camels defeated USC Upstate 1-0 on Saturday and tied Furman 0-0 on Tuesday and have seven games remaining in the month.

Mendoza Leads the Points Race

Stetson’s Jonathan Mendoza, the A-Sun Player of the Week, registered two goals and two assists on the weekend to take the lead of the conference points, but the sophomore isn’t leading the A-Sun in the traditional way. Instead of scoring a lot of goals, Mendoza has been setting up his teammates to build his points total with eight assists on the year and three goals. He leads the conference by three points over Jacksonville’s Darko Karamatic (5G, 1A) and Belmont’s Brandon Tarr (3G, 5A).

Shutouts For All
In the last 11 games played by Atlantic Sun teams, which includes two non-conference games, there have been nine shutouts. Campbell and Stetson claim two shutouts a piece with Lipscomb, Mercer, ETSU, Jacksonville and FGCU posting one each. Three teams in the A-Sun have goals against average that are below 0.75 (Stetson, ETSU and FGCU).

Conference Games This Week
Friday, October 8th

Belmont at UNF – 7 p.m. -
ETSU at Stetson – 7 p.m. -
USC Upstate at FGCU – 7 p.m.
Lipscomb at Jacksonville – 7 p.m. -

Saturday, October 9th
Mercer at Campbell – 4 p.m. -

Sunday, October 10th
Belmont at Jacksonville – 1 p.m. -
USC Upstate at Stetson – 1 p.m. -
Lipscomb at UNF – 2 p.m. -
ETSU at FGCU –6 p.m.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

VolleyBlog - October 5th Edition

As the calendar flipped to October, the Atlantic Sun swung into conference play with Lipscomb and Jacksonville sweeping weekend play to share the top spot in the standings. The conference's top two RPI squads, Lipscomb and ETSU meet in Johnson City, headlining a 10-game weekend slate of games.

Owls Win Opening A-Sun Match in Historic Fashion
Since creating its volleyball program in 2006, Kennesaw State had dropped the first two sets 68 times. In all 68 instances, the Owls went on to lose the match. On Friday, they pulled off their first-ever rally from a two-set hole to beat Belmont in their A-Sun opener. Camile Pedraza and Alyssa Lang each topped 20 digs for Kennesaw State. Watch a replay of the Owls' comeback on ASun.TV.

Dolphins Complete Successful Florida Swing
Jacksonville won the final two games of its stretch of nine games in 10 against other Florida schools with victories against FGCU and Stetson. For the third time in their last four meetings with the Eagles, the match extended to five sets. In all three instances, the Dolphins pulled out the win. The following night, the Dolphins swept Stetson to improve to 2-0 in league play for the first time since winning their first six conference contests in 2005. Read the thoughts Brittany Lehman and Hannah Munneke on the weekend HERE as part of her weekly blog.

Week Two Features Volunteer State Showdown
The NCAA released its first RPI rankings on Monday with Lipscomb and ETSU pacing the A-Sun, placing just outside the top 100. The two meet in Johnson City for the only time in regular-season play on Friday at 7 p.m. The match airs on ASun.TV. Last season, despite not qualifying for the A-Sun Championship, ETSU proved to be Lipscomb's toughest challenge within the league, taking three sets off the eventual champions. In their meeting Johnson City, the Lady Bisons needed five sets to thwart off the upset-minded Buccaneers. No other A-Sun foe took two sets from Lipscomb in a match last year. Lipscomb has won 30 of its last 31 A-Sun contests - 24 have ended in a Lady Bisons sweep.

Catch Six A-Sun Contests on ASun.TV
In addition to Friday's Lipscomb-ETSU meeting, five league matchups air on ASun.TV. Also on Friday, fans can watch Jacksonville at Kennesaw State or UNF at Mercer. On Saturday, ASun.TV offers three games: Belmont at ETSU at 2 p.m., UNF at Kennesaw State at 3p.m. and Jacksonville at Mercer, also at 3 p.m. The remainder of the A-Sun slate include Belmont at USC Upstate and FGCU at Campbell on Friday, both at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Campbell hosts Stetson at 2 p.m. and Lipscomb duels with USC Upstate at 3 p.m.