Bill Ziskin

UAlbany Volleyball Heads to Philadelphia for Villanova Classic

UAlbany Sports Information   09-06-2017

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The UAlbany volleyball team will head south to Philadelphia for its third in-season tournament of the season, playing three matches in the Villanova Classic.

All matches at the Jake Nevin Field House are free to attend for the public.  In addition, all matches will be broadcast online on Villanova.com, available via subscription.

UAlbany plays two matches on Friday, September 8th, taking on Connecticut at 11 a.m. and Princeton at 5 p.m. at the Jake Nevin Field House.  On Saturday, September 9th, the Great Danes play tournament host Villanova at 2:30 p.m.

UAlbany fell in the three matches as host of the Desmond Hotel Invitational, last to Temple in three on Saturday, to come in at 0-6.  UConn is 4-2 after winning two in its home tournament Dog Pound Classic, coming off a three-set win over Hartford, to stand at 4-2.  Princeton, the reigning Ivy League champion, went 2-1 in the Beantown Challenge to open the year, defeating Bryant on Saturday.  Villanova is back from San Diego after going 1-2, coming off a win over Georgia Tech to stand 4-2 overall. 

UAlbany met UConn last season in West Point, winning in four sets to stand 3-1 all-time against the Huskies.  It will be the first time meeting between UAlbany and Princeton.  Only once has UAlbany and Princeton met, a 3-2 victory for the Wildcats in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2009.

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 1,029.  The two-time America East All-Conference Second Team libero and 2015 America East Defensive Specialist of the Year has averaged 4.8 digs per set in her collegiate career and had at least 475 digs in each of her first two years.

She also is 72 digs away from tying for 10th all-time in UAlbany history with Ashley Reed, who had 1,101 digs from 2002-05.

LAST TIME: UALBANY FALLS IN THREE MATCHES IN DESMOND HOTEL INVITE: Hosting its first tournament since 2009, UAlbany fell in three matches in the Desmond Hotel Invitational to St. John’s in three, Colgate in four and Temple in three.

Nicole Otero earned a place on the All-Tournament Team with 37 digs as UAlbany’s libero.  Akuabata Okenwa tallied 20 kills while Chloe Evering concluded with 23 kills and 13 digs.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS: UConn is led in kills by redshirt sophomore outside hitter Kayla Williams with 75, adding 15 service aces and 55 digs.  Senior outside hitter Kenya Cason has tallied 64 kills, eight aces, 46 digs and 10 blocks while junior setter Emma Turner has 203 assists and 30 digs.

Princeton has three players with over 30 kills each after its opening weekend, led by sophomore outside hitter Natasha Skov with 39, adding 17 digs.  Junior middle Caroline Sklaver is the leader in blocks with 14, adding 37 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Maggie O’Connell has 33 kills and six blocks.

Leading the Villanova offense is junior middle blocker Amanda Pedersen-Henry, who hits .294 with 65 kills, each team-highs, plus 10 blocks.  Senior outside hitter Allie Loitz, in four matches, has 44 kills and 31 digs while sophomore libero Regan Lough sports team-bests in digs with 78 and aces with 10.

LAST MEETINGS: UAlbany and UConn met last season in the West Point Invitational, with the Great Danes earning a four-set win (25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 25-23).  The victory was MJ Engstrom’s 142nd win at UAlbany, tying the all-time wins mark in UAlbany’s Division I history.  Chloe Evering hit .371 in the match with 15 kills while Laini Leindecker had a double-double of 11 kills and 16 digs.  For UConn, Kayla Williams hit .380 with 26 kills and 15 digs.

In a back-and-forth battle at the Marriott Cavalier Invitational in Virginia, UAlbany and Villanova pushed to five sets, with the Wildcats getting the victory over the Great Danes (21-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 9-15).  Two Great Danes had double doubles in the match: Hillary White hit .345 with 17 kills and 13 digs while Kalyn Mostert hit .355 for 13 kills and 15 digs.

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