Women's Volleyball Opens Season This Weekend With Four Games at Texas State Classic

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Delta Zeta Texas State Classic
Oscar Strahan Coliseum – San Marcos, Texas

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (0-0, 0-0 MAAC)
Houston Cougars (0-0, American Athletic)
Southern Methodist Mustangs (0-0 American Athletic)
Lamar Big Red (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
Texas State Bobcats (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Delta Zeta Texas State Classic Schedule

Friday, August 30, 2013
Quinnipiac vs. Houston – 9:30 a.m.
Quinnipiac vs. SMU – 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Quinnipiac @ Texas State – 12:30 p.m.
Quinnipiac vs. Lamar – 4:30 p.m.

Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose
The Quinnipiac women's volleyball team will board a plane to Texas on Thursday as the Bobcats will be competing in their first ever tournament in the Lone Star State. They will take part in the Delta Zeta Texas State Classic for a four-game slate against Houston, SMU, Lamar and the host Texas St. The Bobcats' season opener is slated for Friday, Aug. 30 against Houston followed by SMU. Saturday's action will start with Texas St. and then close with Lamar. An All-Tournament Team will be announced following the final game of the tournament on Saturday.

All-Time Record Against the Field
This will be the first time Quinnipiac has played all four of the tournament teams. 

Handling Houston
The Cougars will be moving to the newly formed American Athletic Conference a year after going 9-19 overall with a 7-9 mark in the Conference USA. They played a challenging schedule a year ago that included four games against nationally-ranked opponents and advanced to the Semifinal Round of the Conference USA Championship. Houston was picked to finish eighth in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll while sophomore middle blocker Emily Howard was selected to the All-Preseason Team. Howard played an instrumental role on last year's team and returns as the Cougars' leader in kills (140) and blocks (85). Houston returns 10 players from the 2012 roster but graduated the statistical leader at every position from a year ago.

Scouting Southern Methodist
One of the most talented players the Bobcats will face all season will be the Mustangs' Caroline Young. She was a unanimous selection to the inaugural All-American Athletic Conference Preseason Team after earning All-America honorable mention as a sophomore last season. Young was named to the AVCA All-Midwest Region and All-Conference USA First Teams with a 3.39 kills per set average and a league-high 51 service aces. Maddie Lozano joins Young on the All-Conference Preseason Team after leading SMU with 132 blocks and was second on the team with 234 kills. SMU was picked to finish sixth in the 2013 American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll after finishing last season 11-20 with a 7-9 mark in the Conference USA.

The Other Bobcats
The host institution, Texas St., was recently chosen to finish fourth in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. This season marks the third conference for the Bobcats in the last three years. After a 14-16 season in 2012 with a 9-9 finish in the Western Athletic Conference, Texas St. returns several key players including Preseason All-Sun Belt honoree right side Amari Deardorff as well as setter Caylin Mahoney. Deardorff will continue to man the right side in her senior season after notching 277 kills last season with a .243 hitting percentage. She'll be joined in the middle by senior blockers Ashlee Hilbun and Molly Ahrens. Ahrens led the team with 104 blocks last season to go along with 124 kills while Hilbun was primarily an offensive threat with 268 kills.

The Lowdown on Lamar
It was a disappointing season last year for Lamar as the Big Red finished the year 10-22 overall with a 2-16 mark in the Southland Conference. Sierra Whittaker and Cortney Moore headline a group of returners that will look to build upon the struggles of last season. Whittaker is the only member of the 2013 squad to make the All-Southland Preseason Team as she is coming off 326 kills last season to go along with 41 service aces. Moore mans the middle for Lamar and compiled a nice season with 236 kills and a team-high 88 total blocks. After missing out on the Southland Conference Tournament last season, Lamar looks to improve upon their eighth place Southland Preseason Coaches' Poll selection.

Master of Her Domain
After being granted a red-shirt season in 2011, senior libero Logan Riker is back for one more year with the Bobcats. Already the program's all-time leader in digs through her first three seasons, Riker will look to continue to build upon an already impressive career and supplant herself in the Quinnipiac record books for quite some time.

Quinnipiac women's volleyball all-time career digs leaders

  1. Logan Riker, '13               1,078
  2. Kelby Carey, '11               1,017
  3. Kayla Lawler, '11            819
  4. Erin Overdevest, '09      814
  5. Crista Valentino, '08       754

Channeling the Kills
Quinnipiac's sophomore outside hitter Chandler Thornton made a name for herself in her first season with the Bobcats. She finished 2012 as the second-leading Bobcat in kills (138) and digs (140). The stellar highlight from last season included the first double-double of her career with 13 kills and 13 digs against Providence on Sept. 14. She would go on to record a season-high 14 kills against Bryant on Oct. 17, the most of any Bobcat in a match in 2012.

Meet the Robinson(s)
Being a setter over six-feet tall isn't the norm in women's volleyball but junior Brittanie Robinson certainly made it work last season. One of the team's most-dynamic players from a year ago successfully transitioned from her natural outside hitter position into the main setter for the Bobcats in 2012. She strung together some dominate outings including a season-high 37 assists against Providence to go along with 13 digs for her first career double-double. Robinson amassed two more double-doubles throughout the season and went on to finish with the eighth-highest average for assists per game (5.44) in the Northeast Conference.

Manning the Middle
Holding down the fort in the middle for the Bobcats last season was senior middle hitter Bonnie Conklin. She returns after leading the team with 65 total blocks to go along with 106 kills. Conklin broke out last season with single-season career highs in every major statistical category and her play really improved down the stretch of 2012 as she notched a career high 13 kills in a win over St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 4.

DJ Tanner Reporting Live
The Bobcats' main offensive force last season was junior outside hitter/right side Tanner Celestin. She posted a team-high 154 kills in 2012 and was the most consistent player down the stretch of the season as she compiled at least seven kills in each of the last 10 games of the season. Celestin also pitched in four double-digit kill performances a year ago to lead the team and went for a career high 18 digs in a match against St. Francis (Pa.) on Oct. 27.

Fresh Faces
Head coach Kris Czaplinski recruited six talented freshman newcomers to the program as they all figure to see significant playing time in their first years with the team. Emma Ogden immediately steps into the role as the team's main setter while Allison Leigh gives the team a size advantage with her height and blocking ability in the middle. Katie Urycki and Jamie Paolucci both figure to see time on the outside and right side, respectively, with their great all-around games giving the Bobcats a depth of lineup options. Finally, Sam Alechko expects to be seen in the middle with her powerful offensive game and Cody Michaels gives the Bobcats a second option as a defensive specialist.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu