Sept. 17, 2007
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - USC Upstate will finally begin to compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference with the volleyball team's first conference game of the season on Friday, as it hosts North Florida at 7 p.m. in the Hodge Center. The Spartans have a history against the Ospreys, as both schools were members of the Peach Belt Conference, winning twice in 24 meetings. However, the Ospreys have struggled to a 2-11 record this season.
On Saturday, the Spartans host Jacksonville (5-8) at 5 p.m. in the Hodge Center. This will be the first meeting between the two schools. Sara Bendorf leads the Dolphins, averaging 3.11 kills and 2.76 digs per match.
Before the Atlantic Sun season, though, Upstate will face a familiar foe in a familiar situation in Presbyterian. The Blue Hose (10-4) are also in their first year in Division I, accepting membership into the Big South Conference. The Spartans won two meetings against the Blue Hose in 2006 and hold a 14-12 lead in the series history dating back to Upstate joining the NCAA in 1990. Senior Lauren Mason leads the Blue Hose with 252 kills through the first 14 matches.
A Grand Milestone
Sophomore Morgan Bucciferro became just the ninth player in school history to reach 1,000 career assists when she fed freshman Megan Healey for a kill in the third game of a four-game win against S.C. State on Sunday. The Minooka, Ill., native is ninth in school history with her 1,011 career assists and eighth in school history with an average of 6.61 assists per game. Her counterpart in the Spartan' 6-2 scheme is junior Holly Mauldin, who needs just 29 assists to reach 1,000 helpers in her career.
Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco has found a slot on the All-Tournament teams in each of the last four 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. Once again, she earned a slot on the All-Tournament Team at the S.C. State Spikefest Tournament, posting a team-high 37 kills and leading the Spartans to a 2-1 mark in Orangeburg.
The Daily Double
Sophomore Morgan Bucciferro has two straight double-doubles to her credit after posting 21assists and 12 digs against Wofford on Friday and 23 assists and 10 digs against S.C. State on Saturday. Bucciferro, who has three double-doubles, on the season, has three of the Spartans' five double-doubles on the season. Junior Holly Mauldin posted back-to-back double-double efforts earlier this season, against Navy on Aug. 24 and Wofford on Aug. 25.
Sophomore Katie Downey posted 15 blocks in 12 games during the S.C. State Spikefest Tournament, helping her keep up her pace of 1.19 blocks per game, the second best mark in the Atlantic Sun. Included in the mix, Downey tied a career-high with nine blocks against Wofford on Saturday. She posted a career-high seven assisted blocks in the game. Downey has at least four blocks in seven of the Spartans' 10 games. With 160 rejections, the 6-0 Belleville, Ill., native is already within the school's top 25 in career blocks.
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.
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.
Welcome to the Club
Head coach Jennifer Calloway enters the Division I ranks this year already with a lengthy resume that includes 239 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.
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.