Sept. 4, 2007
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - USC Upstate's volleyball team will get set for their first road match not during a tournament this season, as it heads to Athens, Ga., to take on the Southeastern Conference's Georgia on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the University of Georgia Volleyball Arena. This is the Spartans' first opponent from the SEC since joining the NCAA in 1990, but the Bulldogs and Spartans met five times before 1982, back when both were members of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, with the Bulldogs winning all five matches. Live video and audio of the match will be broadcasted for free on the internet on georgiadogs.com.
The Bulldogs are a perfect 6-0 this season, with all their wins coming away from home. Four of the wins have come at the expense of Atlantic Sun schools (Stetson, North Florida, Mercer, Jacksonville). The team has also beaten Presbyterian, 3-0, a traditional rival of USC Upstate. Mara Martin leads the Bulldogs, averaging 12.72 assists per game, and Maria Taylor averages 5.06 kills and 0.89 blocks per game. Brita Buethe and Martin average 2.78 and 2.72 digs per game.
Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco has found a slot on the All-Tournament teams in each of the last three Spartan tournaments. She was named to the Peach Belt All-Tournament Team as a freshman after averaging 14.5 kills and 3.5 digs per match during the Spartans' run to the tournament semifinals. In the season opening Fatz Cafe USC Upstate Volleyball Tournament, Ambrisco added 32 kills and 11 digs during the three matches to earn All-Tournament honors. She followed that by taking All-Tournament honors at the UNC Asheville Classic, Ambrisco posted 32 kills (.319 hitting percentage) and 11 digs in two matches.
Writing The Record Book
Upstate may have no seniors on its roster, but the team is filled with players already etching their names into the record book. Both Spartan setters, sophomore Morgan Bucciferro and junior Holly Mauldin each entered the top 10 in career assists, with Bucciferro currently ninth with 937 career assists and Mauldin 10th with 921. Bucciferro's 6.79 assist per game average is eighth in school history and Mauldin's 4.75 average is 13th.
Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco became just the 31st player in school history to reach 400 career kills last weekend and is currently just 69 kills shy of becoming the 27th player to reach 500 career kills. Currently, Ambrisco's 3.50 kill per game career average is fifth in school history. Sophomore Katie Downey, with 141 career blocks, is just nine shy of becoming the 24th player in school history to reach 150 and is just 10 assisted blocks of becoming the 20th player in school history to reach 100 in a career.
Freshman Megan Healey has adjusted well to being the Spartan libero during her freshman campaign, leading the Spartans in digs in all six of the team's games this years and posting five straight games of at least 10 digs. Healey is 10th in the Atlantic Sun in digs per game, averaging 3.64 through matches of Sept. 3.
Coming Up Aces
The Spartans entered the ranks of Division I with a convincing 3-0 win over Savannah State in the first game of the Fatz Cafe USC Upstate Volleyball Tournament on Friday afternoon. Upstate began with a bang, posting 17 aces in the first game of the tournament, with six coming from the hands of junior Karla Andree. Both freshman Megan Healey and sophomore Morgan Bucciferro each added three. It was the first time the Spartans posted that many aces in a three-game sweep since beating Montreat, 3-0, on Sept. 24, 2003.
What A Start
In their first game in the Division I era, the Spartans did something they hadn't done in at least five years, posting a .462 hitting percentage (37-7-65) against Savannah State. The team posted just seven errors and split their 37 kills amongst nine players. Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco led the team with eight kills in 10 attempts. Freshman Sandra Campbell added six kills while sophomore Katie Downey, junior Jovana Lubura and junior Angie Varnum each had five kills. The .462 hitting percentage is the highest of the season among Atlantic Sun members.
A Classy Bunch
While USC Upstate athletes have had a history of success in the classroom, there is no doubt that volleyball has been one of the most successful athletic programs in the classroom. All six returning athletes have GPAs above 3.0 and all six were recognized on the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll during the 2006 season. While juniors Jennifer Joraskie (graphic design major), Jenna Leslie (nursing major) and Holly Maudlin (physical education major) earned the award for the second time in their careers, sophomores Jesicah Ambrisco (elementary education major), Morgan Bucciferro (communications major) and Katie Downey (special education major) earned the honor for the first time.
Head coach Jennifer Calloway has taken a national approach to recruiting, with only two players on the 13-athlete Spartan roster coming from South Carolina (Holly Maudlin, Angel Ward). Seven other states are represented on the Spartan roster, including California (Karla Andree), Connecticut (Jennifer Joraskie), Florida (Sandra Campbell), Illinois (Morgan Bucciferro, Katie Downey), Iowa (Jesicah Ambrisco), Missouri (Megan Healey) and Texas (Katie Downey). The other three players, who all came from the New Mexico Military Institute, are from Puerto Rico (Angie Varnum) and Serbia (Tijana Knezevic, Jovana Lubura).
Welcome to the Club
Head coach Jennifer Calloway enters the Division I ranks this year already with a lengthy resume that includes 235 career wins, two NCAA Division II Tournaments and two Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year awards. In fact, she is one of just two coaches in Division I with more than 200 wins less than 35 years of age, along with fellow Atlantic Sun Conference coach Deane Webb of Belmont. Calloway, who reaches the age where she can be elected President in January, became head coach at her alma mater at the age of 23 in 1996 after one year as a student assistant. She was just two years removed from being a star setter for the Spartans.
A Legacy of Success
Since assistant coach Joe Bowman began his first of two tenures as the head coach of the USC Spartanburg volleyball program in 1978, the program has enjoyed nothing but success. Through three NAIA District Six titles, three Peach Belt Conference titles, as well as shifts from the AIAW to the NAIA in 1982 to the NCAA in 1990. The volleyball program has handled all the changes, even an institutional name change to USC Upstate, seamlessly, as the last time the Spartans endured a losing season was a 7-14 campaign in 1976. Since then, the Spartans have an overall record of 805-388 (.675).
Tickets, Tickets, Get Your Tickets
Normal ticket prices for a USC Upstate volleyball match are $4 for adults and $2 for students ages 11-18 with student ID. Children less than 10 years of age will be admitted free along with USC Upstate students with their student ID.