DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team, controls its own destiny to clinch home court advantage in the upcoming America East Championships, which welcomes the University at Albany and Binghamton University, UNH and Albany are slated to clash Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., before taking on Binghamton for a Senior Day matchup Sunday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m.
Honoring the Seniors: The UNH volleyball team will honor senior co-captains Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) and Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) before Sunday's 1 p.m. contest against the Bearcats. The right side hitter tandem has combined for 217 games and 763 sets played to produce UNH's third consecutive playoff appearance and 12th under head coach Jill Hirschinger.
All-Time Series: The Great Danes and Wildcats meet for the 23rd time in their history with Albany leading the all-time series 17-12. UNH has dropped four of its last five contests against Albany. New Hampshire's last victory against Albany came at Lundholm Gymnasium in three sets (30-28, 25-21, 25-19) on Oct. 16, 2011. Earlier this season, the Great Danes bested the 'Cats at University Gymnasium, snapping a four-game unbeaten streak in three sets (14-25, 16-25, 20-25). Against Binghamton, UNH leads the career series with a 12-10 advantage. The Wildcats are 3-2 in their last five matchups against the Bearcats, including a 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 26-24) win this season in Vestal, N.Y. on Oct. 18.
Playoff Picture: The first-place Wildcats have clinched at least a share of the America East regular season title with an opportunity to secure home court advantage UNH can secure the top seed with a win against either the Great Danes or the Bearcats. Both Albany and Binghamton remain in contention to earn a spot in the America East Championships. Furthermore, Stony Brook University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country are seeking playoff berths as well. The top four teams in the conference earn a place in the America East Tournament. The top seed will host the tournament either Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23 or Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24.
Scouting Albany: Winning three of their last four matches, the Great Danes enter the weekend with an 8-17 overall record and 8-4 in conference play. Finishing its regular season home schedule, UAlbany came out on top with a pair of conference wins against Providence College and the University of Hartford. The Great Danes downed the Friars in three (25-9, 25-23, 25-19) and topped the Hawks in four (25-20, 26-24, 22-25, 25-14).
Three Great Danes' hitters average above two kills per set. Samantha Brostrom paces UAlbany with 2.46 kps. Amanda Dolan and Amy Hunter have each compiled 2.04 kps.
Reigning America East Setter of the Week Mikala McCauley (6.99 assists per set) has directed the Great Danes to a .139 hitting percentage this season and .191 in conference matchups.
Hindering the opponent to a .139 hitting percentage in America East contests, UAlbany boasts five players averaging more than two digs per set to lead the conference. Viktoriia Strolio spearheads the defensive effort, scooping up a league-best 4.75 dps. As a team, the Great Danes accumulate 16.69 digs per set to lead America East. At the net, Dolan has racked up 0.98 blocks per set.
Scouting Binghamton: Binghamton holds an 8-18 record overall and 6-6 in America East entering the weekend. The defending America East Tournament champion Bearcats come off a pair of straight set wins over Hartford (25-19, 25-23, 25-9) and Providence (25-18, 25-22, 25-18) to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
Grace Vickers paces the Bearcats with 2.90 kills per set and a conference-best .293 hitting percentage. Allison and Kristen Hovie also contribute to the Binghamton attack to post kill averages above 2.50 kps.
Commanding the attack to a .176 hitting percentage this season, Amanda Dettman has dished out 9.22 aps.
Defensively, Binghamton has conceded a .244 hitting percentage to its opponents this season. Xiomara Ortiz paces the Bearcats in digs with 4.31 dps. Defending the net, Vickers serves as the team's block leader to tally 0.89 bps.
The State of New Hampshire: The 'Cats are riding a five-game winning streak, dating back to Oct. 16 in a three set victory (25-16, 25-6, 25-13) over the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Most recently, UNH topped UMBC (Nov. 8; 3-0; 25-16; 25-23, 25-11) and Stony Brook (Nov. 10; 3-0; 25-20, 25-17, 32-30) in straight sets as well.
Against the Retrievers, Thatcher and Tolliver notched kill tallies of 12 and 11 respectively. Tolliver registered a .500 hitting percentage while Thatcher swung a .455 clip in the match. Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) quarterbacked the 'Cats attack to a .276 hitting percentage to dish out 32 assists.
In the backcourt, Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) paced the defense a team-high 18 digs to hinder the Retrievers' offense to a .138 hitting percentage. The co-captain duo of Thatcher and Tolliver earned three block assists each.
In the match against the Seawolves, double-digit kill efforts from Forrest (14) and Thatcher (13) lifted the 'Cats attack to its fifth-straight win in straight sets (25-20, 25-17, 32-30). Dunklau orchestrated the UNH attack to a .190 hitting percentage and tallied 40 assists. Three different UNH players recorded double-digit dig efforts to curb the Seawolves hitting percentage to .088. At the forefront of the defensive effort, Lightfoot tallied 20 digs followed by Sam Henke (Millersville, Md., 16) and Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y., 10).
Sweeping at Home: In eight contests this season, UNH has recorded a 7-1 record at Lundholm Gymnasium. New Hampshire has topped its opponent six times (five against America East opponents) in three sets at home, translating to 18 consecutive sets. Additionally, the Wildcats hold a 10-6 record in three set matches.
League Leaders: New Hampshire is the only team in America East with a hitting average above .200, holding a .203 clip thus far. In addition, Tolliver boasts the conference best blocks per set average to compile 1.03 bps, a league best. Thatcher and Forrest rank second and third in kills per set, striking down 3.06 and 2.96 kps respectively. Fourth among all America East setters this season, Dunklau has averaged 9.65 aps while Lightfoot ranks third in digs amongst conference players, compiling 4.28 dps.
Rewriting the Books: Currently, three UNH volleyball players rank in the all-time top 10 in assists, blocks, kills and total attacks. Dunklau ranks third in program history, dishing out 1,916 assists. Tolliver joined the 300 block club against Hartford (Oct. 13) and has accumulated 328 in her career, fourth in program history. Becoming just the seventh member of the 1,000 kill club, Thatcher reached the milestone in a nine-kill performance at UMBC (Oct. 6). Thatcher has notched 1,104 kills and 2,834 attack attempts in her career, ranking fifth and seventh respectively.
Due Next: New Hampshire will compete in the upcoming America East Championships. The location, dates and times for the tournament are still to be determined. For more information about UNH volleyball and the upcoming America East Champions, be sure to visit UNHWildcats.com.