Oct. 15, 2007
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Friday Gametracker|Saturday Gametracker|A-Sun.TV
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - After a treacherous stretch of six road matches out of seven, the USC Upstate volleyball team will end the season with seven of their last eight matches in the friendly confines of the Hodge Center, starting with Friday's non-conference match against Winston-Salem State and Saturday's Atlantic Sun meeting with Gardner-Webb.
On Friday, the Spartans host Winston-Salem State at 7 p.m. in the Hodge Center. Live stats will be available through Gametracker. The Lady Rams, who lost 3-0 to the Spartans on Oct. 2 in the schools' first meeting, enters the week with a 4-16 record. They are led by Annika Barnwell, who averages 2.25 kills and 1.63 digs per game.
On Saturday, the Spartans host conference foe Gardner-Webb at 6 p.m. in an A-Sun.TV event. Live stats will also be available through Gametracker. The Bulldogs, who enter the week 12-13 and 3-4 in the conference, are led by Ashley Pridgeon, who averages 3.98 kills per game and Regina Feagin, who averages 11.81 assists per match. The Spartans and Bulldogs have met 14 times since Upstate joined the NCAA, splitting the matches. Upstate is 5-2 in the series at the Hodge and won the last meeting between the schools at the Hodge on Oct. 30, 2001, 3-0 (30-28, 30-18, 30-28).
Career-Highs For Leslie
Junior Jenna Leslie, who posted just one kill and six digs in the five matches leading into the weekend, has reentered the Spartan rotation in a big way. Leslie posted 24 digs and five kills in eight games last weekend at Stetson and FGCU. She had a career-high 16 kills in five-match win against Stetson on Saturday and posted a game-winning kill in fifth and deciding game with a touch kill that split the Hatters' front and back rows. She posted a season-high four kills in match, the Spartans' first win as a member of the A-Sun. She also led Spartans with eight digs against FGCU.
Four Spartans are listed among the A-Sun's conference leaders, as sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco is eighth in kills per game, averaging 3.40 per contest. Junior Jovana Lubura is 10th in service aces, notching 0.40 aces per game. Freshman Megan Healey is 10th in digs, averaging 3.87 per game, which is also 12th in school history. Sophomore Katie Downey rounds out the Spartans in the conference leaders, as she averaged 3.70 points per game, which is also 10th in the conference.
Lubura's Reaches New High
Junior Jovana Lubura, who has battled a nagging back injury all season, posted a career-high 18 kills on Saturday as the Spartans beat Stetson in five games. The Beograd, Serbia, native, gave the Spartans a huge lift, as she hit .349 in the match and she added two straight kills in the fifth game to give Upstate a 10-7 lead. Lubura has averaged 1.95 kills and 1.98 digs per game this season.
Sophomore Jesicah Ambrisco became the 21st player in school history to reach 600 career kills on Saturday at Stetson, as she led the Spartans with 19 kills in the five-game win. Ambrisco leads Upstate with 238 kills this season, an average of 3.40 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.
Freshman middle blocker Sandra Campbell has seen an increased role for the Spartans in the last five matches, averaging 10 kills per match. The Pilot Point (Texas) grad posted a career-high 12 kills at Lipscomb on Sept. 29 and surpassed that mark with 13 kills and three blocks in the five-game win at Stetson on Saturday. Campbell also has seven blocks over that span.
The MEAC Daddy
With the 3-0 win over Winston-Salem State on Oct. 2, 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 school this season.
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.