ANDERSON, S.C. – Following another successful homestand, the Anderson University volleyball team will hit the road for a pair of South Atlantic conference matches this weekend, as the Trojans will travel to unbeaten Wingate, Friday night then visit Coker less than 24 hours later.
AU will square off against Wingate, Friday night at 7 p.m., with the Trojans and Cobras set for a 2 p.m. first-serve on Saturday in the second matchup with Coker already this season.
Anderson (16-1, 7-0 SAC) has posted 12 consecutive victories and will be looking for its sixth straight road win when the top two teams in the league collide tomorrow night at Cuddy Arena.
With the unbalanced schedule due to Hurricane Florence, the Trojans have played – and won – three more conference contests than Wingate and hold a 1 ½ game lead in the league standings less than halfway through the conference slate.
AU continues to rank in the top third of the league in most statistical categories, while pacing the SAC in total kills, assists, aces and points, and is second just behind the Bulldogs in kills per set, hitting percentage and assists per set.
Junior All-American Emily Conlin ranks 10th nationally and leads the conference in assists and ranks 14th in NCAA D-II in service aces and 20th in total assists. The Glendale, Ariz., native is the only player in the SAC with more than 600 assists and is averaging nearly an assist more per set than the nearest competitor. She has posted seven double-doubles this season, including two straight and has dished out 40+ assists eight times.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Grube is tied for fourth in the league, alongside teammate Jayln Knight, with 153 kills on the season and is fifth in the SAC with a team-best 3.12 kills per set. Knight, a senior from Redlands, Calif., paces the Trojans with eight double-doubles on the season, including four in the last five matches and has notched double-digit kills on eight occasions. Knight is fourth in the league in kills, 13th in digs, 14th in kills per set and stands 16th in digs per set.
Redshirt sophomore Hailee Wilhelm is third on the team with 112 kills and is tied for 12th in the SAC with 27 block assists, with sophomore Regan Duty standing fourth on the squad with 106 kills. Freshman Meghan DeVaux leads the Trojans and ranks fifth in the conference with 239 digs.
The Bulldogs, who posted a 27-4 overall record a season ago, including an 18-2 mark and a second-place finish in the conference, were a preseason pick for the 13th consecutive year to finish first in the 2018 SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Bulldogs have won 11 of the last 12 regular-season SAC titles, while also capturing 10 of the last 12 SAC Tournament championships. In that time, Wingate has also won four NCAA Southeast Region Championships.
Senior middle blockers Anna Holmquist and Phoebe Havenaar, along with junior setter Rachel Alles, were named Preseason First-Team All-SAC, while senior libero Kori Adams captured second-team honors.
Alles earned SAC Specialist of the Week accolades in mid-September, while Havenaar was named SAC Player of the Week three days ago.
Wingate (11-0, 4-0 SAC) has been idle since blanking Carson-Newman, 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-21) nearly a week ago and is 33-1 at Cuddy Arena dating back to the 2016 campaign. The Bulldogs' last loss at home was a 3-1 setback to fifth-ranked Wheeling Jesuit on Oct. 1, 2016.
The Series vs. Wingate
After defeating the Bulldogs just once in the first 17 years of the program, the Trojans have knocked off the perennial regional powerhouse twice in their last three meetings.
Anderson will enter Friday's contest looking for its second straight victory and third win in four meetings with Wingate and its fourth overall win in school history past the Bulldogs. A win would mark just their third victory since 1999, when the Trojans were in their first year as a member of NCAA Division II. Wingate has won 20 of the last 22 matchups and leads the overall series, 20-3.
The Trojans snapped a 19-match skid at the hands of their SAC opponent when they stunned Wingate with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-14) win at the Abney Center in mid-October of the 2016 campaign. At the time, the loss marked just the Bulldog's fourth SAC loss in three years. The Bulldogs avenged the loss by sweeping AU, 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-22) in their first meeting last season in the Tar Heel State.
History repeated itself on Homecoming Weekend a year ago, when the Trojans handed the 21st-ranked Bulldogs their first loss of the season at the Abney Center.
In addition to the regular season home-and-home matchups, the two teams have squared off in two of the last five SAC Tournament Championships, with the Bulldogs sweeping AU on both occasions.
Knight posted 17 kills in two matchups with Wingate last season, while adding 18 digs. Kathryn Hughes notched 12 kills, while Conlin notched 81 assists and 18 digs, with Emily Conard and Megan Embry each tallying 24 digs apiece.
The Cobras, who posted a 14-17 overall record a season ago, including a 7-13 mark and an eighth place finish in the conference, were a preseason pick to finish ninth in the 2018 SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Junior setter/right-side hitter Taylor du Bray earned Preseason Second-Team All-Conference accolades prior to the season and claimed SAC Player of the Week accolades earlier this season.
Coker (8-5, 0-4 SAC) has lost two straight and will be searching for its first conference victory when the Cobras play host to Newberry, Friday night.
The Series vs. Coker
The Trojans own a 31-7 record versus the Cobras over the past 20 seasons and have won 20 of the last 23 meetings, including 18 straight. AU blanked the Cobras, 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-15) in the Trojans' home opener on Sept. 7.
In the first meeting this season at the Abney Center, Grube led a balanced attack with 10 kills on the strength of a .474 hitting percentage, with Knight posting eight kills. Wilhelm added seven kills, while hitting .462. Conlin handed out a match-high 28 assists, notched a pair of service aces and came up with six digs. Embry came up with 13 digs, while DeVaux added nine digs. Conard recorded six digs, with redshirt freshman middle blocker Hannah Worsham notching three block assists.