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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Cougars Open NSIC Slate Against Ranked Squads

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 09/12/2012
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This week: The University of Sioux Falls volleyball team opens NSIC play this week with matches at No. 11 Minnesota State, Mankato and No. 3 Concordia-St. Paul. USF will take on MSU on Friday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. in Mankato, Minn., before facing the five-time defending NCAA Division II National champion Golden Bears in St. Paul, Minn., at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Television Coverage: Both matches will be streamed on NMTVSports.com.
USF/MSU: http://msumavericks.nmtvsports.com/
USF/Concordia: http://cugoldenbears.nmtvsports.com/

Live Stats on the Web:  Live stats for NSIC matches will be available for fans all season long. 

NSIC Live Stats Matrix: http://goaugie.com/custompages/livecentral.htm

Twitter/Facebook:  Get all the updates of USF Athletics on Twitter and Facebook. Get in-game statistics and in-game updates on Twitter @USF_Athletics.  Find out about all Cougar Athletics promotions and events and also view photo albums and video interviews on Facebook (University of Sioux Falls Cougars).

About the Cougars: After finishing last year with a 15-27 record overall during the program’s NCAA provisional season, the Cougars were picked 14th in the NSIC league preseason coaches' poll. The Cougars return starting outside hitters Chanda Goedken and Emily Johnson, while losing USF career all-time career blocks leader Alyssa Chambers. USF also lost libero Tashayla Person and setter Charlee Nelson, who is in the top 10 in USF record books for total assists in a season.

"Although we could forsee this kind of placement in our first season with the NSIC, we aren't going to place a lot of stock into a prediction of where the Cougars will finish this season before the competition begins," second-year head coach Joel McCartney said back in August.

"I am sure the NSIC coaches had a very difficult time trying to figure out where the new programs would finish in a league where we have not yet played a match," he added.

Returning Top Stats Leaders: The Cougars welcomed back their top two attackers from 2011: sophomore outside hitter Emily Johnson (451 kills, 2.95 per set) and senior outside hitter Chanda Goedken (417 kills, 2.74 per set). Sophomore middle blocker Samantha Lovell was third on the team in 2011 with 2.07 kills per set and posted 121 total blocks, second only to Alyssa Chambers’ 144 stuffs.

Moving onto the NSIC Slate

USF continues the 2012 season after wrapping up non-conference play with a record of 8-1. The Cougars finished up the non-conference slate last weekend at the 2012 Avila University Invite in Kansas City, Mo. The Cougars rolled through their four tournament opponents, claiming a 3-1 victory over Oklahoma City University before taking a broom to Harris-Stowe State, Haskell University and Bethel College.  

Crunching the Numbers: Back in August, Coach McCartney said that with nine new athletes joining eight returning players, his 2012 team “won't even be recognizable...let alone predictable,” when compared to the 2011 version.  The statement has proven to be entirely accurate; when you look at the numbers, this is a new brand of Cougar volleyball.

Through nine matches last season, the Cougars were 2-7 overall and had been swept by opponents four times. They had posted 321 total kills, 59.5 blocks and an anemic team attack percentage of .167.

There was also an early sign of McCartney’s emphasis on ball control and smart play. USF averaged just 16 errors per match, the lowest mark for a USF team since the 2003 season. That ‘03 Cougar squad went on to finish 26-13 overall, which remains the best record in USF’s modern era (2002).

Compare those numbers to Cougar Volleyball: Version 2012. USF is 8-1 through nine contests, the best start in school history. The lone blemish is a five-set loss to Jamestown College (9-2); a match that the Cougars led two sets to none before falling prey to a “lack of focus,” according to McCartney. Six of USF’s eight wins have been of the sweeping variety. The Cougars are hitting .362 as a team, more than 200 points higher than a year ago. USF has 448 kills (roughly 50 per match) and 73 total blocks.

Two new faces are integral parts of Version 2012: junior setter Alexa Reed and junior libero Andrea Odbert. Reed, who transferred in from St. Leo’s University, has already dished 366 assists, or roughly a quarter of USF’s total assists last season. Odbert played two seasons at Central CC (Neb.) before joining the Cougars and she has shined thus far, digging out 145 shots for an average of 4.53 per set.  

Going into NSIC play, USF currently boasts the top two offensive threats in the league in sophomore middle blocker Samantha Lovell (80 kills, .503 attack %) and senior middle blocker Sarah Kohler (84 kills, .493 attack %). The Cougars also enter the weekend as the top-hitting team in the NSIC with a team clip of .362. 

What’s most impressive is that the Cougars have continued to cut back on their attack miscues. After a preseason that focused on controlling the offense and hitting the ball at sharper angles, the Cougars are committing an average of 12 errors per match, by far the best mark in school history. 

Scouting the Weekend Opponents

Cougars vs. Mavericks: This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

MSU opened the 2012 campaign ranked No. 23 in the AVCA Top 25 Poll and are currently slotted No. 11 after posting a 6-2 record through the first two weeks of the season.

Senior outside hitter Chelsea Fogarty currently leads the Mavericks with 3.67 kills per set. Junior libero Kelli Elhardt leads the way in digs with 4.17 per set. In assists, true freshman Ellie Van De Steeg leads MSU with 8.78 per set. Senior Jill Storlie has been a force at the net for the Mavericks and averages a team-high 1.50 stuffs per set. She is also second on the team in kills per set (2.9) and is tied for the lead in attack percentage (.250).

Cougars vs. Concordia: This will also be the first-ever meeting between the Cougars and the Golden Bears.

The Golden Bears are currently ranked No. 3 in the AVCA Top 25 Poll and enter the weekend with an overall record of 6-1. Concordia dropped a four-set match to No. 24 West Florida at the Colorado Premier Challenge in Denver.

Senior middle blocker Cassie Haag leads the Golden Bears with 3.44 kills per set. On the defensive side, junior outside hitter Kara Pioske leads with 3.21 digs per set. Junior right side/setter Kayla Koenecke isn’t far behind with an average of 2.64 digs per set. Sophomore Katie Habeck leads the charge at the net with 20 total blocks (.8/set).

Did You Know? USF is 3-12 since 2002 against teams that currently reside in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Cougars have tallied two wins versus Minot State (2010, 2011) and Winona State (2011).

Goedken on All-Tournament Team: Chanda Goedken was honored for her outstanding performance at the Avila University Invitational by being named to the 12-member All-Tournament Team following the conclusion of the event on Saturday afternoon in Kansas City, Mo. She earned all-tournament honors after leading the Cougars to a 4-0 record at the event, including three consecutive sweeps of Harris-Stowe State, Haskell University and Bethel College. Goedken tallied 33 kills, 24 digs and nine blocks while hitting at a .328 clip in 13 sets. She also served up 10 aces in the Harris-Stowe match, the most recorded by a Cougar since the 2009 season (Sneller/Heeney, 9/12/09, William Jewell).

NSIC Preseason Poll: The University of Sioux Falls volleyball team was a preseason pick to finish fourteenth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference this season, according to the coaches of the league.

The Concordia University, St. Paul Golden Bears were picked to finish first for the ninth consecutive season. The Golden Bears have won the past five NCAA national titles and received all 15 first place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own team). Minnesota Duluth finished second in the preseason poll, edging out Southwest Minnesota State by two points, 202 to 200. Wayne State (183) and Minnesota State (166) rounded out the top five. Augustana placed sixth with 151 points, just ahead of MSU-Moorhead who were voted seventh with 146 points. Winona State was picked eighth and Northern State ninth with 125 and and 101 points, respectively. Upper Iowa's 95 points placed the Peacocks in tenth and Minnesota, Crookston was picked No. 11 (81 points). St. Cloud State was voted twelfth (77 points), Bemidji thirteenth (59 points) and USF was picked No. 14 (41 points) in their first season competing in the NSIC. The University of Mary and Minot State tied for fifteenth and rounded out the list with 34 points each. 

Goedken was named as USF's "Player to Watch" this season.

McCartney Back for 2nd Season:  Head coach Joel McCartney enters his second year with USF and heads into the weekend with a 23-28 overall record at USF, and career mark of 367-183 (.667).  

Live & On-demand
Audio and Video
Volleyball vs. Bemidji State (Country Inn & Suites Invitational)
Friday , September 09 @ 2 p.m. CST