Sept. 29, 2009

By Amy Farnum

LIONS ROAR: Saint Leo cracked the AVCA Division II Top 25 after beginning the Sunshine State Conference schedule with a perfect 4-0 mark, earning the program’s first ranking in a year at No. 23.

Junior Kaitlin McKenna led the Lions with an incredible .615 hitting percentage in wins over Lynn and Barry, highlighted by a .750 performance against the Buccaneers.  The native of Farmington Hills, Mich., averaged 3.71 kills and 0.70 blocks per set as she claimed SSC Player of the Week honors.   Junior Bruna Rocha led the Lions on the defensive front, tallying 17.1 digs per set on the week to share the league’s weekly award. 

Saint Leo’s new national ranking will immediately be tested as the Lions travel to No. 24 Eckerd on Sept. 30, and head to fifth-ranked Tampa on Oct. 3 in SSC action.

STORM BREWING:  Wingate University stretched its winning streak against South Atlantic Conference foes to 35 matches as the Bulldogs remained perfect in league play with wins over Brevard and Lenoir-Rhyne last week.
Junior middle blocker Stormi Gale averaged 3.67 kills per set while hitting .400 for the week to earn her second SAC Player of the Week award this season.  The native of Richmond, Texas, ranks second in the SAC with 3.26 kills per set, and paces the team with 37 blocks on the season.

The Bulldogs are looking to remain flawless against Southeast Region opposition as they host USC Aiken on Sept. 29 before returning to SAC action against Newberry this weekend.

ABOVE THE CROWD: Nebraska-Kearney held on to its No. 8 spot in the AVCA Division II Top 25 as the Lopers took control of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference East Division standings.  The Lopers swept Regis for its first loss in RMAC play, and then knocked off then-No. 16 Metro State, 3-1, as they remained unbeaten in league action.

Senior outside hitter Erica Burson posted 5.00 kills per set while hitting .391 on the week to earn RMAC Offensive Player of the Week, while junior libero Katlyn Heiserman averaged 4.86 digs per set in the two victories to take the league’s defensive weekly honor.

The Lopers continue RMAC play with a three-match home stand beginning on Oct. 1 against Colorado State-Pueblo.

STILL FLYING: No. 13 Lewis University stretched its winning streak to 11 matches with three victories last week thanks to the solid play of senior middle hitter Sara deBuhr.

The Flyers began the week with a 3-1 win over UW-Parkside led by deBuhr’s 17 kills and .314 hitting percentage.  Lewis went on to sweep Great Lakes Valley Conference foes Illinois-Springfield and Quincy, and deBuhr garnered the league’s Player of the Week award for her contribution of 4.00 kills, 0.75 blocks and 0.75 digs per set.

Lewis, which has not dropped a set in GLVC action, travels to Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri S&T as the Flyers try to keep up their winning ways.

KNOCK DOWNS: UC San Diego head coach Tom Black picked up his 100th career victory in a sweep of Cal State Stanislaus as the fourth-ranked Tritons held on to second place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings.  Black has compiled a record of 100-27 in four seasons at UCSD … Wayne State (Neb.) is riding a school-record 15-match winning streak as the Wildcats host two-time defending NCAA champion Concordia, St. Paul on Sept. 29 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest. WSC re-entered the national poll at No. 22 this week for its recent success. Both squads are unbeaten in league play, while CSP boasts a perfect 17-0 mark … Minnesota State’s Amanda Beekman was named Sports Imports/AVCA Division II National Player of the Week as the No. 11 Mavericks stayed perfect in NSIC action last week.  The junior outside hitter averaged 4.90 kills, 1.00 digs and 5.45 points per set, while hitting .380 in three league wins.