ANDERSON, S.C. – After handing 25th-ranked Wingate its first loss of the season a week ago, the Anderson University volleyball team will close out the regular season with a two-match South Atlantic Conference road swing this weekend.
The Trojans are slated to meet Catawba, Friday night at 7 p.m. and square off against Queens at 2 p.m., Saturday.
Anderson (25-3, 16-2 SAC), which trails league-leading Wingate by one game and has clinched at least the second seed in next week's SAC Championship, is bidding to capture its second straight conference title.
The Trojans, who were ranked fourth for the second consecutive week in the NCAA's Southeast Region weekly poll yesterday, have won nine of their last 10 outings and are 14-3 away from home this season.
AU has reached 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. With their next victory, the Trojans will become just the second team in program history to earn 26 wins in a season.
As a team, the Trojans continue to lead the conference in kills, assists and service aces and rank second in kills per set, hitting percentage, assists per set and aces per set.
Trojans continue to post impressive stats down the home stretch of the regular season:
• Wilhelm has averaged 15 ½ kills over the last four matches.
• Sophomore Regan Duty has 41 kills in the last three matches.
• Senior Jayln Knight averaged 10 kills and 14 digs over the last three matches.
• Freshman Liliana Kinder has averaged nearly 11 kills per match over the last four outings.
• Conard has averaged nearly 12 digs per match over the last five matches.
• Conlin has 17 double-doubles on the season, including five straight.
• Knight has a dozen-doubles on the season, including two in the last three matches.
The Lady Indians, who posted a 6-19 overall record a season ago, including a 4-16 mark and an 11th-place finish in the conference, were a preseason pick to finish 10th in the 2018 SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Catawba (9-20, 5-13 SAC) enters the weekend in eighth place in the league standings and has won three of its last four decisions, including two straight. The Lady Indians are seeking their second home win of the season after sweeping Coker two days ago.
The Series vs. Catawba
The Trojans and Lady Indians have met just 17 times, all as members of the South Atlantic Conference. AU holds a 12-5 advantage in the overall series and has won 11 of the last 13 meetings, including four straight.
The teams split the regular-season matchups during Anderson's inaugural season in the league in 2010, with the Trojans winning seven straight over Catawba before the Lady Indians blanked AU in the second regular-season matchup in Salisbury during the 2015 campaign. Anderson had swept the regular-season matchups from 2012-14 after Catawba swept both meetings during the 2011 season.
AU blanked the Lady Indians, 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-19) in early October at the Abney Athletic Center. In that meeting, Duty and Kinder shared match-high honors with nine kills apiece, while Wilhelm added eight kills. Knight also tallied eight kills and came up with 10 digs on the night. Conlin dished out 35 assists and recorded 15 digs, with DeVaux notching 11 digs and Conard recording nine digs.
The Royals, who posted a 23-8 overall record a season ago, including a 14-6 mark and a third-place finish in the conference, were a preseason pick to finish third in the 2018 SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Queens (12-14, 8-10 SAC) lost four starters from last year's team that captured the 2017 SAC Tournament Championship, but returned senior Taylor Henry and sophomore Casey Tarvin, who each earned a nod as preseason all-conference honorees.
Henry, a second team all-conference honoree last season, was named first team as a middle hitter. The Kingsport, Tenn., native started all 31 matches for Queens last season and led the team with a .347 hitting percentage and was fourth on the team with 234 kills (2.02 kills per set). Tarvin, an all-freshman and all-tournament honoree a year ago, was placed on the preseason second team after leading Queens last season with 298 kills. She tallied 215 digs and 36 total blocks.
Tarvin earned AstroTurf SAC Player of the Week on Oct. 22, after helping lead the Royals two a 2-1 record the previous week. She averaged 4.54 kills and 5.23 digs across 13 total sets and turned in three consecutive double-double performances. She hit .212 over the three matches and also chipped in three service aces and two blocks.
The Royals are in seventh place in the conference standings and are looking to snap a three-match skid after posting a three-match win streak. Queens is coming off a four-set road loss suffered two days ago at Augusta and closes the regular season by playing host to Newberry, Friday and AU on Saturday.
The Series vs. Queens
The Trojans are 27-11 versus Queens over the past 19 seasons and have won 24 of the last 29 meetings, including five of the last six matchups. The two teams have met just 12 times since 2009, when both were members of Conference Carolinas, with Queens joining the SAC in 2013.
AU defeated the Royals, 3-1 (25-22, 25-15, 20-25, 25-21) in early October at the Abney Center, with Kinder leading four Trojans in double-figure kills. Kinder knocked down 13 kills, while adding three digs and a team-high four block assists. Knight posted 12 kills and 16 digs for a double-double, with Duty and Wilhelm each posting 11 kills apiece. Conlin recorded a double-double with 43 assists and 18 digs, while chipping in a pair of service aces. DeVaux came up with a match-high 21 digs, while Conard added 14 digs.
The Trojans defeated Queens, 3-1, in last season's first regular-season matchup in Charlotte, N.C., in a victory that ignited AU's school-record 22-match win streak, then swept the Royals at the Abney Center in mid-October and again in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast Region Tournament in St. Augustine, Fla.