NEWARK, Del. - - With two matches remaining to play in the regular season, the University of Delaware volleyball team controls its own destiny with hosting the upcoming Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
With a pair of victories this weekend at James Madison and George Mason, the Blue Hens would lock up the number one seed and the right to host the tournament for the second straight year.
The Hens are on the road at JMU on Friday starting at 7 p.m. before heading to George Mason on Saturday for a 5 p.m. matchup.
Scouting the University of Delaware Blue Hens (16-12, 9-3 CAA):
Last time out, Delaware swept an important weekend to climb back into first place in the CAA standings. The Blue Hens took down Hofstra, 3-1, to rebound from an early season loss to the Pride and defeated first place Northeastern, 3-0, to regain control of the conference.
The Hens and Huskies are tied each with a 9-3 CAA record, but Delaware swept the season series against Northeastern, putting them a game ahead due to the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Reigning CAA Player of the Week Chelsea Lawrence led the Blue Hens over the Pride ad Huskies by not committing an error in the two matches. She contributed 19 kills on 36 swings while hitting at a remarkable .594 clip.
In CAA matches, Delaware controls the net better than any other school. The Blue Hens lead the conference with a .251 hitting percentage, while only allowing opponents to hit a league low .157. Also defensively, they are second in digs (16.02 per set) and third in blocks (2.32 per set).
Individually, senior setter Renee Tomko sits atop the conference in CAA matches while averaging 0.49 aces a game. Tomko is also second while dishing out 10.95 assists per set against CAA opponents. Lawrence also sits in second in the conference, hitting at a .338 rate in CAA play.
Scouting the James Madison University Dukes (19-8, 8-4 CAA):
James Madison clinched a berth in the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Championships last weekend with a 3-2 win over in-state rival George Mason. This weekend they will look to sure up their seed as they close out the regular season by hosting Delaware and Towson at Sinclair Gymnasium/Godwin Hall.
JMU enters the weekend with an 8-4 conference record which is tied for third in the CAA with Towson. The Dukes need to sweep this weekend’s action and receive some help from other teams in order to host the tournament. Northeastern travels to UNCW and Georgia State and needs to lose both games, while Delaware needs to lose to both JMU and George Mason.
Last week, Madison went 2-0 against a pair of in-state foes. JMU won a midweek game at home against Norfolk State, 3-0, before traveling to George Mason to pick up a 3-2 win.
Redshirt freshman setter Kristi Richardson was named CAA Rookie of the Week after collecting 84 assists, 21 digs, 13 kills and two service aces in eights sets played. She became the first JMU player since Emilee Hussack (2002-05) in 2005 to collect a triple-double after posting 50 assists, 18 digs and 11 kills in the win against the Patriots. She was selected as a CVU.com National Top Performer of the Week for her efforts.
In the first meeting of the season, Delaware defeated the Dukes, 3-1, on October 7 on Viera Court. The Blue Hens had three players in double-digit kills, led by senior Kim Stewart’s 16. Katie Hank collected 15 while Lawrence added 11. Holly Wall who picked up 12 kills on the night led the Dukes.
This is the 39th meeting between the two programs dating back to 1973. Delaware leads the all-time series 22-17, including winning 10 of the last 12 matches.
Scouting the George Mason University Patriots (7-17, 2-10 CAA):
The regular season comes to a close on Saturday for both George Mason and Delaware at the Recreation & Athletic Complex.
The Patriots have been living a nightmare recently, losing 10 straight dating back to September 30. The worst part is that their previous four matches have all gone to five sets. George Mason has not won since defeating William & Mary, 3-1, on September 24 at home.
Most recently George Mason dropped the fifth set to James Madison, 15-12, but also lost to UNCW, 15-13, Georgia State, 15-9, and VCU, 15-10. The Patriots were up two sets to none against VCU before falling in five.
Statistically, George Mason is ranked second in block in CAA matches averaging 2.42 blocks per set. Laura Spencer and Kelsey Bohman are a major factor at the net, as Spencer denies 1.23 attacks a set while Bohman stops 1.02 attempts a frame.
Lana Zonjic paces the Patriot offense with 4.16 kills a set and is second on the team with 15 aces. Lauren Goodell and Tori Price set the offense for Mason averaging 8.04 and 6.43 assists per game, respectively.
This is the 39th meeting between the two programs dating back to 182. With Delaware’s victory earlier this season, the all-time series is now knotted at 19-19. The Blue Hens have won 12 of the last 14 in the rivalry.