Volleyball Hosts Conference Foes Providence and Hartford for Homecoming Weekend


DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team returns to Lundholm Gymnasium after an 11-game road trip to clash with America East opponents Providence and Hartford. UNH and Providence are set to compete Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., while the Hawks and 'Cats play Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m.

Dig Pink: Dig Pink® is the Side-Out Foundation's trademark name for its fundraising events. The Side-Out Foundation was established in 2004 to unite volleyball players and coaches to have them work toward the common goal of furthering breast cancer awareness, education and patient services. Side-Out supports teams nationwide in their volleyball tournaments, clinics and other fundraising efforts. The charity contributes the funds to organizations that serve breast cancer patients, whether it be in the form of research, medical services or patient support. New Hampshire will hold their annual Dig Pink game Sunday, Oct. 13 against the Hawks.

Homecoming: The University of New Hampshire will be celebrating Homecoming weekend, Friday Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 13. Additionally, UNH Volleyball will honor the 1998 and 2003 America East Championship teams in both contests. The 1998 Wildcats boasted an undefeated 14-0 conference record while compiling a 24-11 record overall. UNH defeated both Hofstra and Delaware in the America East tournament by scores of 3-1each en route to the ' Cats first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. In 2003, UNH compiled a 23-12 record while registering a 12-2 record in America East play, igniting their third NCAA tournament appearance in five years. New Hampshire defeated Albany and Northeastern in four sets each to win their third America East title. The '03 Wildcats recorded 15 wins at Lundholm, the most wins at home in program history.

All-Time Series: The Wildcats and Friars have met 22 times in their history with UNH trailing the all-time series 6-15-1. Last season, the Wildcats swept the season series against the Friars in straight sets. Against Hartford, New Hampshire boasts a 33-3 record against the Hawks, the most wins against a given opponent. In 2012, the Hawks and 'Cats split the season series; each team registered a win at home. UNH dropped the first match at Hartford 3-2 followed by a 3-0 victory in New Hampshire.

Scouting Providence: Coming off a four-set loss to Binghamton and a three-set win against Albany, Providence comes into the match with a 9-10 record overall and 2-1 in conference play.  

Junior outside hitter/right side hitter Mackenzie Ziegler leads the Friars' attack, posting 2.76 kps. Reigning America East Rookie of the Week Kayla Fitzgerald provides another option for the offense, accumulating 2.65 kills per set. The freshman outside hitter also averages 2.95 dps, second best on the squad.

Freshman defensive setter Michelle Cruz, averaging 4.48 dps, leads the Friars backcourt. Quarterbacking the offense, sophomore setter Jordan Wiesler has averaged 9.73 aps during the 2013 campaign. Providence has hit .178 this season while allowing opponents to hit for a .177 average.  Providence headlines the conference in digs, averaging 15.52 dps.

Scouting Hartford: The Hawks are also coming off a 1-1 week, losing to Albany in four sets and defeating Binghamton in straight sets. Hartford holds a 7-12 record overall and 1-2 in America East competition. 

Leading the offense, outside hitters Dionna Kirton and Corinne Horanzy average 2.54 and 2.65 kps respectively, this season. Additionally, Kirton averages 2.72 dps, ranking fourth on the Hawks. Directing the offense, junior setter Jackie Tamburri tallies 9.75 aps and leads the offense to a .174 hitting percentage. 

On defense, freshman Paola Llerandi anchors the backline, averaging 3.41 dps. The Hartford defense has conceded a .205 hitting percentage against opponents this season.

The State of New Hampshire: The UNH volleyball team returns to Durham with an 8-11 record overall and 2-1 in conference play. New Hampshire comes of a 1-1 weekend, sustaining a five-set loss to Stony Brook and prevailing in four sets against UMBC.

Against the Seawolves, the set scores were 25-22, 18-25, 25-22, 20-25 and 15-13. Senior outside hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton Mass.) led all hitters, striking 14 kills at a .333 clip. Sophomores Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) and Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.), as well as freshman Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.), all reached double-digit kills, registering 12, 11 and 11, respectively. Junior setter Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) tallied 46 assists to quarterback UNH to a .288 hitting percentage. Sophomore Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) finished with a team-best 23 digs, hindering SBU to a .202 hitting percentage.

In the match against the Retrievers, the set scores were 20-25, 25-19, 25-23 and 25-23. Forrest fueled the Wildcats' attack, registering a career high 18 kills. Additionally, Forrest tallied 14 digs, earning her fifth consecutive double double. Brinkman assisted the offensive effort, tallying 13 kills. Lightoot anchored the defensive effort, posting 23 digs and limiting the Retrievers offense to a .172 hitting percentage. Dunklau orchestrated the offense, distributing 49 assists in the victory.

Thatcher, registering 2.82 kps (second best in the conference) paces New Hampshire offensively. Forrest, the America East Player of the Week for Sept. 30, has averaged 2.54 kps and 2.42 dps this season. Orchestrating the offense, Dunklau has dished out 9.04 aps, spearheading the 'Cats offense to a .182 hitting average. Lightfoot leads the defensive effort, averaging 4.04 dps and limiting opponents to a .212 hitting average.

1,000 Kills: Thatcher became just the seventh player in UNH volleyball history to record at least 1,000 kills. The outside hitter reached the milestone, registering a kill in the third set in the 3-1 win against the Retrievers on Oct. 6.

Block Party: Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) paces America East this season in blocks, accumulating 69 rejections and averaging 0.99 bps. The right-side hitter is four blocks away to reach 300 blocks. She would become just the fifth player in program history to reach at least 300 blocks in a career.

Double-Double: Forrest has tallied eight double-doubles this season, surpassing her freshman total of seven. Additionally, the sophomore has registered double digits in kills and digs in five consecutive games. This season, the Wildcats are 5-3 when Forrest notches a double-double.

Due Next: UNH takes the road once again, traveling to New York to compete against Albany and Binghamton. The Wildcats and Bearcats compete Friday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. The Great Danes will host New Hampshire Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m.

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