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UAlbany Volleyball Starts America East Season vs. Binghamton on Friday

UAlbany Sports Information   09-18-2017

ALBANY, N.Y. – The UAlbany volleyball team is set to begin the 2017 America East regular season, taking on SUNY rival Binghamton on Friday, September 22nd at 7 p.m.

Admission to the match at the University Gym is free to the public.  In addition, the match will be broadcast online on AmericaEast.tv.

This is the first contest of a three-match homestand at the University Gym for the Great Danes.  After the homestand, UAlbany will have just one home match in the following four weeks.  This is also the opening weekend for America East teams.  Six of seven America East programs have their opening conference match on Friday.

UAlbany is coming off an 0-3 weekend in the Colorado State Invitational, last falling to Xavier in four, to enter at 0-12 overall.  Binghamton lost three matches in the Hofstra Tournament, last a four-set defeat to Bryant, for a 3-10 overall record.

Last season, the two sides split in the regular season, with each winning a road match.  UAlbany won in four sets on September 23th in Vestal, then Binghamton swept the Great Danes on October 21st in the Capital District.  All-time, UAlbany is 25-12 against Binghamton, including winning three of the last four. nine kills and five blocks.

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.

LAST TIME: UALBANY FALLS IN THREE MATCHES IN CSU TOURNAMENT: Wrapping up non-conference play, UAlbany dropped three matches in the Colorado State Tournament, in three sets to each to Colorado State and Colorado and in four to Xavier.

Akuabata Okenwa led UAlbany in kills in all three matches, totaling 39 kills and 19 digs.  Nicole Otero averaged 3.5 digs per set to total 35 while Courtney O’Connell tallied 12 kills and four total blocks.

AQUA ATTACKS: Akuabata Okenwa is second in the America East with 3.46 kills per set, totaling a team-high 135 kills on the year.  Going into conference play, the redshirt sophomore has led UAlbany in kills in each of the last seven matches.  She is also 10th in the league with a .201 hitting percentage.

APPROACHING ENGSTROM’S 100TH LEAGUE WIN: As UAlbany’s head coach, MJ Engstrom is 11 league victories away from her 100th win in America East regular season play.  In total, Engstrom’s UAlbany teams are 89-19 (82.4%) 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.

CAPITAL DISTRICT REPRESENT: Among UAlbany’s freshman class include two players from the Capital District.  Lexi Shannon, who enrolled at UAlbany last spring, was a three-time Colonial Council All-Star out of the Albany Academy while Diana Pinchuk, a two-time Suburban Council All-Star and first-ever Niskayuna player to play Division I volleyball.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT: Two Bearcats that play in the front row were all-conference second team members last season.  Junior outside hitter Gabby Alicea is the team leader in kills with 172 and aces with 20, adding 134 digs.  Senior Kristella Morina is in the middle, hitting .265 with 102 kills 37 total blocks.

Senior setter Sarah Ngo also earned all-conference honors last season, standing with 462 assists and 170 digs this year.  Fresman Samantha Gioiosa is the libero with 199 digs.

LAST MEETING: Starting the second half of the conference season, Binghamton defeated UAlbany in three (23-25, 20-25, 16-25) at the University Gym on October 21, 2016.  Akuabata Okenwa had a UAlbany-best nine kills and four blocks while Chloe Evering had seven kills.  Lauren Kornmann had 17 kills and six digs to lead the Bearcats, while Bianca Anderson hit .526 with 11 kills.

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