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CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah University women’s volleyball will open its Big Sky Conference season this week, hosting Weber State on Thursday night and Idaho State on Saturday night.
“These will be important matches for us,” head coach Debby Baker said. “We’re starting to come together, but just need to put all the pieces in place. This weekend will give us the chance to do that and get a good start in the Big Sky.”
Southern Utah will enter the weekend 1-8 overall on the year and riding a three-match losing streak. Kylie Schofield leads the Thunderbird offense with 109 kills, but the middles have proven to be the most efficient with three (Stradling, Angilau, Heine) leading the team in hitting percentage. Freshman Joanna Christenson continues to improve at setter with a team-best 317 assists. As a team, SUU is averaging 10.42 kills per set for a total of 375 on the year.
Defensively, SUU is led by a pair of underclassmen in digs with sophomore Jenna Bradfield tops on the team with 112 (3.11 per set) followed by freshman Sariah Pelaez with 108 and an average of 3.08 per set. Southern Utah’s block has totaled 76.0 blocks this year with freshman Ann Clappier leading the team with 27.
The matches this week are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. on both nights with live stats and live video links available online at www.suutbirds.com.
Thursday Night Promotions
Students and fans can take advantage of several promotions scheduled to take place on Thursday night, including:
• Team poster signing in the West concourse of the Centrum arena immediately following the match.
• Rivalry “Red Out” - fans are encouraged to wear red to show their support of SUU.
• SUUSA will be sponsoring a tailgate party prior to the match on the Multi-Purpose quad at 6:00 p.m. The first 500 students to the event will receive a free pulled-pork sandwich.
• Students will also be eligible to enter a drawing for a $500 scholarship that will be awarded during the intermission between the second and third sets at the volleyball match.
Teacher and Student
Weber State head coach Tom Peterson was a mentor to Southern Utah head coach Debby Baker as both served on the same staff at Utah State and New Mexico in 2000 and 2001.
Strong Up The Middle
Southern Utah’s offense is most productive this season when going through the middle. Annie Stradling (.277), Lusia Angilau (.253) and Taylor Heine (.207) are first, second and third on the team in hitting percentage so far this season.
Better to Sneak Up From Behind
Southern Utah is 0-5 this season when winning the first set.
First One to 20 Wins
Southern Utah has only dropped one set (9-1) when getting to the 20-point plateau before its opponent this season. However, the T-Birds are 0-23 in sets when opponents hit the 20-point mark first.
Scouting Weber State
Weber State will host Utah Valley on Tuesday night before making the trip to Cedar City on Thursday. The Wildcats are currently 4-9 on the year with victories over Grand Canyon (3-2), Seattle (3-0), UC Riverside (3-2) and LaSalle (3-0).
The Wildcat offense has been led by transfers Audrey Biggs (Wichita State) and Rebecca Fuchs (Utah) with 130 and 126 kills and averages of 2.65 and 2.68 kills per set, respectively. Whitney Hunt has directed the attack with a team-best 303 assists this season. As a team, WSU is hitting .142 on the year with 506 kills and an average of 10.33 kills per set.
Defensively, McKay Tarbox paces the team with 223 digs, averaging 4.55 per set. Katie Harvey and Megan Bean are tops on the WSU block with 41 and 40 blocks, respectively. As a team, Weber State has totaled 568 digs (11.59 per set) and 125.0 blocks (2.55 per set) this season.
Southern Utah holds a 5-1 advantage over Weber State since the return of the program in 2008. The T-Birds are currently riding a five-match winning streak against the Wildcats.
Scouting Idaho State
Idaho State will play at Northern Arizona on Thursday night before making the trip to Cedar City on Saturday. The Bengals are currently 6-5 on the year, but are coming off back-to-back 3-1 losses to UC Irvine and Utah.
ISU is led offensively by Enterprise High School product Tressa Lyman with 151 kills, averaging 3.97 per set. She is followed by Alydia Fields-Grimm with 88 kills (2.51 per set) and Makenzie Filer with 73 kills (2.09 per set). The Bengal attack is directed by Lori Mendenhall-Lee with a team-best 389 assists. As a team, ISU is hitting .221 on the year with 499 kills, averaging 13.13 per set.
Defensively, Idaho State has totaled 525 digs this year, averaing 13.82 per set and 69.0 blocks, averaging 1.82 per set. Individually, Kylee Sessions leads the team with 122 digs with Filer pacing the team with 35 blocks.
Idaho State holds a 2-0 advantage over Southern Utah since the return of the program in 2008. The Bengals swept both matches against the T-Birds in 2012.