LAKELAND - Florida Southern Volleyball will look to keep its winning streak intact this weekend as the Moccasins travel to Savannah, Ga., to compete in the 2012 South/Southeast Region Challenge presented by Optim Health and hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State University.
The Mocs, who won three consecutive matches last weekend at the Courtyard by Marriott/Lynn Invitational to move its record to 4-4 on the season, will open play on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against North Alabama, before facing Flagler at 7 p.m. On Saturday, FSC will face UPR-Rio Piedras at 11 a.m. and conclude the tournament at 2 p.m. against the home team, Armstrong Atlantic State.
"This is a huge weekend for our volleyball team. All of these matches are region opponents," Mocs head coach Jill Stephens said. "We've had a good week of practice and we're ready to go."
The Mocs enter the weekend with an offense that is hitting a combined .224 and is averaging 13.56 kills, 16.78 digs and 1.78 blocks per set through eight matches. Last weekend at the Lynn Invitational, the Mocs hit .320 and recorded 128 kills, 24 blocks and 25 service aces in nine sets.
Leading the way for FSC this season is sophomore outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Kent.), who has a team-best 100 kills and is averaging 4.00 kills per set and is hitting .247. Stromberg, who was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Lynn Invitational, is fourth in the team in digs (64) and has had three double-doubles. In addition to Stromberg, sophomore right side hitter Gabby Fernandez (Tampa, Fla.), who was named to the All-Tournament Team at the season opening Western Oregon Classic, is second on the team in kills (90) and leads in aces (12) and is has recorded four double-doubles and senior outside hitter Anne Pietkiewicz (Winter Park, Fla.), who was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Lynn Invitational, is third in kills (70), leads the team in digs (80) and has had two double-doubles.
"We were able to gain both some momentum and confidence last weekend," said Stephens, who is in her 12th season at her alma mater. "In addition, we learned to finish off sets, which is something we need to continue to do this weekend."
The Mocs opponents this weekend have a combined 16-7 record as three of FSC's opponents have winning records. North Alabama enters the weekend with a 1-4 record, while Flagler enters with a 5-2 record and is tied for 22nd in the latest AVCA D-II Coaches' Poll. UPR-Rio Piedras is 3-1 on the season and Armstrong Atlantic is sporting a perfect 7-0 record and received 69 votes in the latest AVCA D-II Coaches' Poll.
UNA, who is a member of the Gulf South Conference and also the South Region, is led by the play of senior outside hitter Priscilla Massengale and junior middle hitter Taylor Chapman. Massengale has recorded a team-best 49 kills and is averaging 3.06 kills per set and is hitting .147, while Chapman is hitting .267 and has had 36 kills (2.25 kps) and 10 blocks (0.62 bps).
Flagler, who won the Southeast Regional title in both 2009 and 2011, is led by senior outside hitter Dianne Craine, senior libero Casey Gnann and freshman setter Amelia Morgan. Craine, who won Peach Belt Player of the Week honors on Sept. 4, is hitting .230 and has recorded 106 kills, 99 digs and is averaging 3.93 kills and 3.67 digs per set, while Gnann has recorded 188 digs and is a two-time PBC Specialist of the Week and Morgan is hitting .325 and has recorded 236 assists and 52 digs.
UPR-Rio Piedras is led by the play of senior right side hitter Youzally Ortiz, who recorded double digits kills in matches against Texas Woman's and Central Arkansas and senior libero Deborah Anglero, who recorded double-digit matches against Arkansas-Monticello and Central Oklahoma.
Armstrong Atlantic, who is a member of the Peach Belt Conference, is led by the play junior outside hitter Jessica Santaniello, senior outside hitter Amanda Jones and junior middle hitter Kristen Holmes. Santaniello, who is the reigning PBC Player of the Week, is hitting .260 and has recorded 86 kills (3.19 kps), 77 digs and 2.85 digs per set, while Jones leads the team with 89 kills and is hitting .308 and Holmes has recorded 33 blocks (1.22 blocks per set) and is hitting .289.
Following this weekend's action, the Mocs return home to open Sunshine State Conference play next weekend as they host Lynn on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. and Barry on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. Both of those matches will played at Jenkins Field House on the FSC campus.
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