Head coach Ben Somera and his volleyball team kick off the 2008 season against Arizona State on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. EDT. Gametracker live stats are available here at GamecocksOnline.com
Aug. 27, 2008
Weekend Notes in PDF Format
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
The South Carolina Gamecocks open their 2008 season this weekend in the Arizona State Sheraton Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Carolina opens the season against the host Sun Devils before locking up with defending Atlantic 10 champion Dayton and UNLV in the last two matches of the tournament.
The Sun Devils and Flyers will be breaking in new coaching staffs during the tournament. Last year, Arizona State finished at 15-16, seventh in the Pac-10 Conference, while Dayton captured the A-10 crown. The Rebels advanced into the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 24-6 overall mark, tying for second in the Mountain West Conference.
Gamecocks Bring Back Over 85 Percent of Production
South Carolina should be able to pick up where they left off in 2007. In most major statistical categories, the squad returns 85 percent of the production from last season. The highest percentage back comes in assists and digs, as 94 percent of last year's totals are back. Defensively, the squad returns its top six diggers from a year ago, while both primary setters are back for Carolina. The squad also has 85 percent of its aces back, including nine of the 10 players that registered at least one. Eighty-six percent of the kills return, including the top four in kills last season. The only category that "suffered" a loss is blocks, as a mere 74 percent (and the squad's top two blockers) are back for 2008.
Belita Salters Continues Record Book Assault
Redshirt senior Belita Salters has done a lot during her time in Columbia, and the record books prove that. She already stands in the top 10 all-time in hitting percentage (ninth, .270), solo blocks (eighth, 50) and blocks per game (seventh, 1.10). She needs 12 solo blocks to tie Lorri Anderson for seventh on the career charts, while 40 block assists would tied her with Libby Ralston for 10th. For total blocks, Salters needs 22 to move into a tie with former teammate Shonda Cole for 10th on that list. Last season, Salters recorded 33 solo blocks and 128 total, averaging 1.21 blocks a game, which stood 10th in the Southeastern Conference in 2007.
Series History Against ASU Sheraton Classic Opponents
The Gamecocks and Sun Devils have met three times previously in the last decade, with South Carolina coming out on top in the last two of those meetings. The two Garnet wins came in 2001 and 2002, first in Tempe before a victory in Columbia. Arizona State won the first meeting in 1999 at the Georgia Tech Invitational.
Friday night's contest between Dayton and South Carolina will be the first in history between the programs. UNLV and South Carolina also have not met in volleyball prior to Saturday's match.
Lone Pac-10/SEC Battle Opens Season for Gamecocks, Sun Devils
In 2008, there is only one scheduled meeting between the Southeastern and the Pac-10 Conference on the court this season, and that is the season opener between Arizona State and South Carolina. Last year, the SEC went 0-2 against the nation's top volleyball league. In history, the Carolina Gamecocks have won three of eight meetings against the west coast powers, including the last two, both over the Sun Devils in 2001 and 2002. The last SEC win over the Pac-10 came on Dec. 1, 2006, as Florida defeated Arizona State in the NCAA Tournament.
Scouting Arizona State
This weekend's hosts open the 2008 season with a new look nearly across the board. Arizona State hired former BYU head coach Jason Watson to lead the program, and he has brought in six new faces to help suppliment a team returning four starters. The group is led by sophomore Sarah Reaves, who averaged 4.14 kills per game a year ago. Margie Giordano finished second with 3.51 kills per game and returns for her senior season. Both averaged above 2.45 digs per game in 2007. ASU also brings back top blocker (1.11 bpg) and hitter (.294) Sara Todorovich, who led the team as a freshman in those categories. They are looking to replace libero Sydney Donahue and her 6.27 digs per game.
The Atlantic-10's Flyers have a new head coach as well, but Kelly Sheffield will have an experienced cast back that advanced into the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Sheffield comes to Dayton from Albany, where he compiled a 128-79 mark in seven seasons. Five starters return for Dayton, including 2007 A-10 Rookie of the Year Lindsay Fletemier. She is the top returner on the kills chart, averaging 3.08 per game while adding 1.05 blocks per frame. Senior Bethany Akerhielm was a first-team all-conference selection with her 1.19 blocks per game and a 2.60 kills-per-game average. The three other returning starters all averaged over 2.25 digs per game.
The Rebels of UNLV made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007 and return three starters from that squad. Senior setter Melody Nua is back after averaging 13.12 assists per game and 0.82 kills per frame. However, the Rebels will look to replace their top kill artists, blocker and libero from a season ago. Jessica Walters and Erin Greenwood both tallied more than 2.10 kills per game and look to improve as juniors. Camille Cunningham ranked second on the `07 team with 3.25 digs per frame.