UAlbany Volleyball Continues League Play vs. UNH, UMass Lowell
ALBANY, N.Y. – The UAlbany volleyball team will continue its homestand this weekend, hosting the reigning America East champion New Hampshire and UMass Lowell. UAlbany plays UNH on Friday, September 29th at 7 p.m. and UMass Lowell on Saturday, September 30th at 6 p.m.
Each match is free to attend for the public at the University Gym. In addition, each match will be broadcast online for free on AmericaEast.tv.
UAlbany will complete a three-match homestand this weekend. Following this weekend, UAlbany will play just one home match in the next four weeks.
The America East season began last weekend. UAlbany earned a four-set victory over Binghamton last Friday at home to go to 1-12 overall and 1-0 in the league. New Hampshire won a five-set match at UMass Lowell on Friday for its fourth consecutive victory, improving to 6-9 overall and 1-0 in the America East. UMass Lowell, which had a three-set win vs. Bryant on Tuesday, comes into the weekend at 5-9 overall and 0-1 in the league, playing at Binghamton on Friday.
Last season, UAlbany and UNH split in the regular season, with the Wildcats winning the 2016 America East Tournament title in three on November 19th. UAlbany leads the all-time series 20-19 vs. UNH. Since UMass Lowell joined the DI ranks in 2013, UAlbany is undefeated vs. the River Hawks at 8-0, last a five-set win on the road on October 30th, 2016.
UALBANY PREDICTED TO FINISH SECOND IN AMERICA EAST: The UAlbany volleyball team has been predicted to finish second in the America East in the 2017 season in the preseason coaches poll. UAlbany got two out of a possible six first place votes, getting 31 total points. New Hampshire, the defending America East champion, is predicted to finish first with 34 points with five first place votes.
NICOLE OTERO JOINS 1000-DIG CLUB: UAlbany’s starting libero beginning in the 2015 season, Nicole Otero joined the 1,000-dig club on September 1st vs. St. John’s, currently standing at 1,121. The two-time America East All-Conference Second Team libero and 2015 America East Defensive Specialist of the Year has averaged 4.7 digs per set in her collegiate career and had at least 475 digs in each of her first two years.
She also is 15 digs away from tying for 8th all-time in UAlbany history with Brooke Stanley, who had 1,136 digs from 2007-11.
LAST TIME: UALBANY DEFEATS BINGHAMTON IN AMERICA EAST OPENER: UAlbany opened America East play on Friday night with a four-set win over Binghamton (25-17, 25-20, 14-25, 25-23) for the first win of the season.
Chloe Evering led UAlbany with 12 kills, adding four digs. Kelly Cameron nearly had a double double off 30 assists, nine digs, four blocks and four kills while Danielle Tedesco contributed four kills and six blocks. As a team, UAlbany had 11 blocks. Kristella Morina hit .526 for Binghamton with 11 kills.
AQUA ATTACKS: Akuabata Okenwa is second in the America East with 3.31 kills per set, totaling a team-high 139 kills on the year. Going into conference play, the redshirt sophomore led UAlbany in kills in each of the last seven matches.
Chloe Evering is second on the team with 86 kills. Each Okenwa and Evering earned a place on the 2016 America East All-Rookie Team.
APPROACHING ENGSTROM’S 100TH LEAGUE WIN: As UAlbany’s head coach, MJ Engstrom is 10 league victories away from her 100th win in America East regular season play. In total, Engstrom’s UAlbany teams are 90-19 (82.6%) in the America East regular season.
The Great Danes have won at least nine America East matches in nine out of 10 years and double digit league victories in six years.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS: The primary outside hitter for UNH is sophomore Kennedi Smith with 175 kills, 14 service aces and 133 digs, while junior middle blocker Gabri Olhava hits .265 with 149 kills, 23 aces and 43 total blocks. Third in the league in digs per set at 4.22, sophomore Logan Welti has 232 digs
Sophomore outside hitter Katherine Claybaugh leads UMass Lowell in kills with 148, adding nine aces and 114 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Madi Bell hits .239 for 108 kills and 20 total blocks while junior Lindsey Visvardis serves as libero with 221 digs and 13 aces.
LAST MEETINGS: Meeting in Durham for the 2016 America East title on November 19, UAlbany fell in three sets (22-25, 18-25, 18-25) to New Hampshire. Aquabata Okenwa and Chloe Evering each had nine kills for UAlbany. Demi Muses led New Hampshire with a double double of 10 kills and 10 digs.
UAlbany survived a five-set battle (25-12, 24-26, 23-25, 25-23, 15-7) at UMass Lowell on October 30, 2016. Chloe Evering had a team-best 18 kills while Laini Leindecker notched a double double off 12 digs and 11 kills, including her 1,000th career kill. Katherine Claybaugh led UMass Lowell with 17 kills.