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9.5 Volleyball Weekend Preview: The American Tournament

The Golden Eagles are in Washington, D.C., this weekend to take on American University and #8 Florida State.

No pictures of American's mascot, if they even have one, but this will do just fine.
No pictures of American's mascot, if they even have one, but this will do just fine.
Rich Schultz

The big takeaway from the opening weekend of the volleyball season for me was that Ryan Theis is going with sophomore Lauren Houg at libero.  I had pegged the competition as between junior Ellie Rauch and sophomore transfer Ellen Hays, but Houg, who didn't play all that much in 2013, won the eye of Theis.

From a competitive standpoint, I think we saw the best possible result from MU's three matches.  They ran through two quality opponents in one day and then were clearly beaten by a top 25 team.  It wasn't a bad showing against Colorado State, it was just that the Rams were clearly the better team at this point in the season.  Courtney Kintzel earned herself a spot on the Big East's Weekly Honor Roll for her work last weekend.  Kintzel is currently tied for the best hitting percentage in the Big East at a clean .500, and Kintzel has nearly twice as many attacks as Creighton's Marysa Wilkinson.

Match #4: at American University (3-0)

When: Friday, September 5, 2014, at 6pm Central
Where: Bender Arena in Washington, D.C.
Audio/Visual: Gods bless the Patriot League and their digital network for free video streaming.  Live stats should be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

David Aldridge's American Eagles ran through their first three matches of the season in just 10 sets.  They only went to four sets with Howard, as AU dropped the first and then took the next three sets.  The stellar start to the season has American on the verge of being ranked in the AVCA Top 25 after finishing last year ranked #19 and playing their way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.  Right now, the Eagles fell just 17 points short of that final slot in the AVCA rankings, and obviously this tournament that they're hosting gives them a chance to boost their way into the Top 25.

American was the unanimous choice to repeat as Patriot League champs in 2014.  Senior setter Monika Smidova was named the preseason Player of the Year, and for good reason, as she's averaging 9.7 assists, 2.2 kills, 3.9 digs, and 0.70 aces per set already this season.  Smidova was joined on the preseason all-Patriot League team by outside hitter Kristyna Lindovska (2.7 kills, 1.2 blocks) and middle blocker Kelly McCaddin (2.5 kills, .457 avg., 1.0 digs, 1.3 blocks).

Match #5: vs #8 Florida State (3-0)

When: Saturday, September 6, 2014, at 12pm Central
Where: Bender Arena in Washington, D.C.
Audio/Visual: FSU and MU aren't in the Patriot League, so no video.  Lame.  There might be live stats on AU's website, so give that a whirl.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteVB

The Seminoles jumped up from #13 to #8 in the AVCA Top 25 after dispatching then #7 Nebraska and an Iowa State team that is getting votes in the poll during their opening weekend.  FSU dropped the first set to the Huskers 25-18, but came back and won the next three, 27-25, 25-23, 25-23.  They had a much easier time against the Cyclones, winning in straight sets and never by less than four points.  For an encore, Florida State won a five set brawl with #10 Florida.  Needless to say, it's been a pretty impressive start to the year for the Seminoles, and it's probably going to take two hours of perfect volleyball from the Golden Eagles to come away with a win on Saturday.

With seven first place votes, Florida State is the favorite to win the ACC this season.  Three Seminoles are on the preseason all-league team: Senior libero Katie Mosher, junior outside hitter Nicole Walch, and sophomore middle blocker Sarah Burrington.  Walch is averaging a completely bananas 4.25 kills/set, and she chips in 2.5 digs/set in her spare time.  Burrington only averages 1.25 kills/set, but her adept hands are blocking 1.42 balls per set, too.  With three players averaging more than 2.4 digs per set, Mosher doesn't have a lot of work to do, but she is still leading FSU with just short of four digs per set.