ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team, which has been idle since knocking off Lincoln Memorial last Saturday, will be looking for its ninth win in 10 outings, when the Trojans return to the Abney Athletic Center for a Friday night South Atlantic Conference-matchup against undefeated Wingate. First-serve versus the Bulldogs is set for 6 p.m.
Admission to each volleyball match is free.
In addition to kicking off the weekend's Homecoming festivities, the Trojans will also recognize five members of the squad who will be making their final regular-season appearance in the Abney Center. The quintet has been instrumental in the Trojans posting 82 wins, four SAC Tournament appearances and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances during their careers.
Anderson (24-3, 15-2), which was ranked fourth in the NCAA's initial Southeast Region weekly poll yesterday, is returning to the friendly confines of the Abney Center after capturing back-to-back road wins over Tusculum and LMU last weekend. The Trojans are an undefeated 10-0 at home on the season and ran their home win streak to 24 consecutive matches after blanking Newberry eight days ago in the Electric City.
The Trojans are looking to reach the 25-win plateau for the third time in program history and the second straight season after posting a school-record 28 victories a year ago.
AU continues to lead the conference in kills, assists and service aces and ranks second in kills per set, hitting percentage, assists per set, aces per set and third in total digs.
Three days ago, junior setter Emily Conlin was named AstroTurf SAC Specialist of the Week for the fourth time this season and the eighth time of her stellar career after handing out 142 assists (12.91/set) in three wins last week, while notching her 14th, 15th and 16th double-doubles of the season.
Several Trojans are riding hot hands entering the final three contests of the regular season:
• Sophomore Hailee Wilhelm has averaged 15.3 kills over the last three matches.
• Sophomore Regan Duty has 28 kills in the last two matches.
• Conlin averaged 53 ½ assists last weekend.
• Freshman Meghan DeVaux tallied 38 digs on the road trip.
• Senior Jayln Knight averaged 12 kills and 15 digs over the last two matches.
• Freshman Liliana Kinder has averaged more than 11 kills per match over the last three outings.
• Senior Emily Conard has averaged 11.75 digs per match over the last four.
• Conlin has 16 double-doubles on the season, including four straight.
• Knight has a dozen-doubles on the season, including two straight.
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.
Havenaar and Alles have each earned SAC Player of the Week twice this season.
Wingate (23-0, 15-0 SAC) was tabbed No. 1 in Wednesday's NCAA Southeast Region Poll and holds a two-game lead over the Trojans in the loss column in the SAC standings. While AU was idle, the 'Dogs captured back-to-back three-set wins over Coker and Mars Hill on Monday and Tuesday and are the lone unbeaten team in NCAA Division II.
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 four meetings, with both victories coming at the Abney Center.
Anderson will enter Friday's contest looking for its second win in three 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 21 of the last 23 matchups and leads the overall series, 21-3.
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.
In the four-set loss a month ago at Wingate, the Trojans posted their lowest attack percentage of the season (.024), with Wilhelm leading the Trojans with 12 kills, while Kinder added 10 kills. Conlin handed out 31 assists and came up with a team-high 17 digs, while DeVaux tallied 13 digs. Junior Kathryn Hughes recorded 12 digs, with Knight adding 11 digs.