Sept. 25, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A six-match homestand for the Navy volleyball team begins this weekend when the Midshipmen play host to Bucknell and Colgate in the Wesley A. Brown Field House as part of the opening weekend of the Patriot League season. The match against the Bison is slated to begin Friday at 7 p.m., followed by the contest against the Raiders Saturday at 4 p.m.
In addition to prizes and giveaways being available for fans during Saturday's Navy-Colgate match, the team will also hold a Meet the Mids autograph session following the conclusion of the contest. There is no admission charge for any home Navy volleyball match.
"We're excited about the start of the league season," said Navy head coach Mike Schwob. "You could see our pace pick up in practice Wednesday. Now, every match, every set and every point has an added importance to them, so we will have to be ready to go right away Friday night.
"We are facing two very good teams who are playing at a higher level than their records indicate. Our matches against Bucknell and Colgate last year could have gone either way, and I expect that to be the case again this weekend."
Navy enters the start of Patriot League play on a three-match winning streak and with a 9-3 record on the season, with the strong start due in no small measure to its serving. The Mids were ranked second in the country in service aces per set at the start of the week with an average of 2.46 aces per set. Navy dropped in seven aces during its three-set win over Coppin State Tuesday night to see its average dip slightly to 2.45. Individually, four Mids were ranked among the top-100 servers in the country prior to the match against the Eagles, with Alexa Gibbs (Sr., Springfield, Ill.) ranked fourth nationally with a 0.692 aces-per-set average. She was held without an ace in the match against Coppin State.
Equally important to its own serving is how the Mids have been able to put together strong serve receive numbers. Navy's opponents are averaging just 1.24 aces per set against the Mids this year.
Navy also holds a noticeable statistical advantage over its opponents in attack percentage. Hitters for the Mids have totaled a .218 hitting percentage on the season, with their foes hitting at a .162 clip.
In addition to her national ranking in service aces, Gibbs also is pacing the Navy team in kills per set (3.31 kps), hitting percentage (.355) and blocks per set (0.81 bps). Jessie Sims (Sr., Etowah, N.C.) stands second on the team to Gibbs in kills (2.79 kps) and leads Navy with a 3.00 digs-per-set average.
Bucknell brings a 4-9 record on the season with them to The Yard, a deceiving overall record when considering the Bison have posted a 7-14 record in sets decided by five points or less. Bucknell as a team is being slightly outhit this year by its opponents (.217-.159), but holds a 1.53-1.31 advantage in blocks per set.
Kaitlin Segal (3.32 kps), Kyleigh McAhern (2.00 kps) and Heidi Kamp (1.96 kps) lead the Bucknell attackers, with Segal leading the team in service aces (0.47 aps) and McAhern pacing the squad in blocking (0.74 bps). Libero Emily Sawanobori is hauling in a team-best 3.05 digs per set this year.
Navy holds an 18-15 lead in the all-time series with Bucknell, but the Bison have posted a 14-12 record against the Mids in Patriot League regular season matches. The road team has ruled this series, with Bucknell holding a 7-4 advantage in Patriot League matches played in Annapolis and Navy having an 8-7 lead in contests played in Lewisburg.
The Mids won both of the matches played between the teams last year to sweep the regular season series for the second time in program history and the first since 1999. Navy won both matches last year in three sets, with four of the six sets being decided by only two points and another determined by just three points. The match played between the teams in Lewisburg had set scores of 32-30, 31-29 and 31-29.
Colgate enters a Friday night match at American with a 4-8 record on the year. Included on its ledger are losses to Boston College (twice), Georgia, Duke and Syracuse. The Raiders also have been involved in many close matches on the year. Of the 47 sets the team has played this season, 32 of them were determined by five points or less. Colgate has compiled a 12-20 record in those close contests.
The number of close sets Colgate has played is further illustrated by the statistical comparison between the team and its opponents. The Raiders are averaging a nearly identical number of kills, aces and digs as their foes are, with the only areas Colgate is significantly trailing in being hitting percentage (.232-.199) and blocks per set (2.17-1.44 bps).
A trio of Raiders are averaging multiple kills per set this year, with Katrina Zawojski's average of 3.85 leading the team. Kelsea Loveless ranks second to Zawojski with 2.19 kills per set and is the top non-libero on the team at 2.60 digs per set. Colgate's top passer, Jackie Adlam, is hauling in 4.08 digs per set on the season.
Colgate has won the last five matches from Navy to take a 21-12 lead in the overall series with the Mids, as well as a 15-11 advantage in Patriot League regular season matches. The recent Colgate winning streak, which includes a trio of five-set victories by the Raiders, follows a stretch in which the Mids won six of the seven matches played between the teams.