Oct. 8, 2007
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The USC Upstate volleyball team will hit the road this weekend in search of its first Atlantic Sun Conference win after a brief one-match homestand, as they head towards conference front-runner Florida Gulf Coast on Friday night for a 7 p.m. match. The contest will be streamed live on A-Sun.TV. The Eagles, who have never faced the Spartans, went into the weekend with a hefty .316 hitting percentage as a team, led by junior Ana Kokanovic's .384 hitting percentage and 3.54 kills per game.
On Saturday, the Spartans will take on Stetson, another opponent new to Upstate, in DeLand, Fla. The game will have live stats and streaming available on GoHatters.com. The Hatters, who have started the year 7-11 overall and 2-3 in the A-Sun, are led by Kayla Readshaw's 9.60 assists per game, the fifth-best mark in the conference.
Upstate is led by sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco, who is sixth in the A-Sun with an average of 3.44 kills per game. Freshman Megan Healey is 10th in the conference in both digs (3.84) and service aces (0.41) while junior Jovana Lubura is ninth in service aces per match (0.42).
Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco, who has posted 20 kills in each of the last two Spartan wins, is just 24 kills from becoming the 21st player in school history to reach 600 career kills. Ambrisco leads Upstate with 213 kills this season, an average of 3.44 per match. As a freshman, Ambrisco posted 363 kills, a 3.52 per game average. The Iowa City, Iowa, native appears to be on pace to become just the 10th player in school history to reach 1,000 kills in a career by the time she graduates in 2010.
Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco nearly posted a new set of career-highs on Tuesday at Winston-Salem State, as the Iowa City, Iowa, native posted 22 kills and a .677 hitting percentage in the three-game sweep. The 6-1 outside hitter posted a career-high 24 kills at The Citadel just seven days prior to the Rams match and she posted a .679 hitting percentage against Presbyterian on Aug. 26, 2006. She had 20 kills and just one error in 28 attempts against the Blue Hose.
The MEAC Daddy
With the 3-0 win over Winston-Salem State on Tuesday, the Spartans improved to 4-0 on the season and 4-1 since joining the NCAA against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents. The Spartans have dropped just two games to MEAC schools this season, as they downed S.C. State, 3-1, on Sept. 15 and Hampton, 3-1, on Sept. 14. The team also swept S.C. State at home on Aug. 28. The Spartans, who have held MEAC schools to a paltry .145 hitting percentage, will host Winston-Salem State on Friday, Oct. 19 in their final game against a MEAC shool this season.
Freshman middle blocker Sandra Campbell has seen an increased role for the Spartans in the last three matches, averaging 10.3 kills and hitting at a .254 clip for the Spartans. The Pilot Point (Texas) grad posted a career-high 12 kills at Lipscomb on Sept. 29 and added 10 more at Winston-Salem State on Oct. 2.
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 has posted three 20-dig matches this season, including a career-high 26 against Wofford on Aug. 25. The St. Louis, Mo., libero leads the Spartans with an average of 3.84 digs per game, which is 10th in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The freshman has posted 10 or more digs in 15 of the 18 matches this year.
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 241 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.