Sept. 25, 2007
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - USC Upstate will get a chance to improve to 3-0 this season when playing against South Carolina state universities, as it heads to Charleston, S.C., for a Tuesday night showdown at The Citadel. Upstate won two matches against S.C. State earlier this season. Rachel Sanders is the leader of the 2-12 Bulldogs, averaging 3.52 kills and 2.46 digs per game. The Spartans have a 1-0 record in the career series against the Bulldogs, taking a 3-0 (15-5, 15-3, 15-1) decision on Sept. 12, 1998.
North For Nashville
The Spartans will take their first Atlantic Sun Conference road trip this weekend, heading north to Nashville for a Friday night game against preseason favorite Belmont and a Saturday game at Lipscomb. Belmont, which placed two players on the preseason all-conference team, including preseason Player of the Year Coleen Nilson. Nilson has delivered so far this year, averaging 11.61 assists, 3.11 digs and 0.53 service aces per game while leading the Bruins to an 11-5 start. Lipscomb is 5-8 overall and 0-1 in the Atlantic Sun. Sarah Snider leads the Bison with an average of 4.74 kills and 2.6 digs per game.
Not Down And Out
Despite playing with a torn meniscus (knee cartiledge), sophomore Katie Downey led the Spartans during the last three matches, averaging 3.00 kills, 2.65 digs and 0.55 blocks per game. She turned in a special performance on Friday against North Florida, establishing career highs with 17 kills and 15 digs in her first career double-double. She narrowly missed a second double-double on Saturday against Jacksonville, posting nine kills and 11 digs. Downey is currently fifth in the Atlantic Sun with an average of 1.05 blocks per game and seventh in the conference with 3.95 points per game.
After leading the Spartans in digs in her first 10 career games, freshman Megan Healey finally didn't finish first on the digs tallyboard, with junior Holly Mauldin leading the squad with 12 digs against Presbyterian on Tuesday. Healey posted 11 digs in the match and followed that by posting her second-career 20-dig match against North Florida on Friday. However, on Saturday, sophomore Katie Downey posted 11 digs to lead the Spartans against Jacksonville, while Healey finished with 10. Still, the St. Louis, Mo., libero leads the Spartans with an average of 3.75 digs per game, which entered is ninth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The freshman has posted 10 or more digs in 12 of the 14 matches this year.
Mauldin's Milestone Night
Just one week after sophomore Morgan Bucciferro reached the milestone, junior Holly Mauldin became the 10th player in school history to reach 1,000 career assists. Mauldin reached the mark on a kill from junior Jenna Leslie in the third game of the Spartans' five-game loss to North Florida on Friday night. Mauldin posted a career-high 33 assists in the match and is averaging 6.71 assists per game in Atlantic Sun play.
A Plethora Of Career Highs
Sophomore Katie Downey and junior Holly Mauldin weren't the only Upstate players to post career highs on Friday night against North Florida. Freshman Sandra Campbell posted career-highs with 11 kills and five blocks in the match and junior Angie Varnum established career highs with nine kills and four blocks in the match. Junior Jenna Leslie also tied career highs with four assists and nine digs and sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco tied her career high with five blocks in the match.
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.
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.