SFA Heads North For Tulsa Invitational

Sept. 9, 2009

Tulsa (6-0, 0-0 Conference USA) - Sept. 11, 7:00 p.m.
Texas Tech (1-5, 0-0 Big XII) - Sept. 12, 10:00 a.m.
Gonzaga (2-4, 0-0 West Coast) - Sept. 12, 4:30 p.m.
Donald W. Reynolds Center (8,355) - Tulsa, Okla.

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FOR STARTERS The Ladyjacks picked up three wins in five tries last week, but only managed a split of four matches at last weekend's Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational in Springfield, Mo. This week SFA gets some time off before heading to Tulsa for the Tulsa Invitational. The Ladyjacks will square off with the host Golden Hurricane in the first match before taking on Texas Tech and Gonzaga on Saturday.

vs Tulsa, SFA leads 2-1 The last time: SFA 3, Tulsa 2 • Sept. 8, 2007 • Nacogdoches
vs Texas Tech, Texas Tech leads 2-1 The last time: SFA 3, Tech 0 • Sept. 19, 2008 • Denton, Texas
vs Gonzaga, First Meeting

Each of the Ladyjack matches in Tulsa can be followed via Gametracker at www.tulsahurricane.com with a full recap following the day's events that can be found at www.sfajacks.com.

Also, keep up with other news and notes about the Ladyjacks with the Ladyjack Volleyball Blog at sfajacks.com, and at www.sfavolleyblog.net.

SFA finally gets to spent a little time at home next week with the Ladyjack Invitational on the slate. The Ladyjacks will get four matches under their own roof before a quick road trip to North Texas on Sept. 22 that is followed by the start of league play and three more matches at home. It will be the closest thing to a true homestand SFA has this season with seven of those eight games at Johnson Coliseum.

Most In Texas: Since 2004, only one Division I school in the state of Texas has had a better wining percentage than the SFA Ladyjacks, but nobody has enjoyed more total wins. SFA has picked up 137 wins in the last five seasons up to this point, with nine wins more than the University of Texas. Here is where the top six rank in Texas since 2004:

Texas State..111-63
Texas A&M.....88-66

Little Learning Curve: Freshman Madison Hanlan wasted no time putting her name toward the forefront of the Southalnd Conference, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Week honor in her first try. Hanlan averaged 4.23 digs per set in four matches in the season-opening Northern Illinois Tournament, including 19 digs against Western Illinois. Hanlan currently sits third in the league with 4.00 digs per set, getting at least 15 in four of her nine matches this year, including a season-high 21 against Missouri State on Saturday.

Debbie Versus Her Alma Mater: Saturday will mark the second consecutive season that SFA head coach Debbie Humphreys will get a shot at knocking off her alma mater - Texas Tech. Last year the Red Raiders were not originally on the schedule, but Hurricane Ike altered several teams' schedules and the two met up in Denton, Texas, in a makeshift tournament that saw Humphreys get her first ever win over the Red Raiders in three tries.

Miksch-ing It Up: With Kelsey Owens still out SFA knew it had to fill the offensive void and in the last five matches it has been Melissa Miksch stepping up to do just that. Originally Miksch was intended as a back-row option with her ball-control skills, and that reasoning has been evident as she has moved into the top 10 in the league with 3.54 digs per set, but she also averaged 2.29 kills per set last week at outside hitter. The Austin native had a pair of double-doubles on the first day of the tournament at Missouri State and set career highs in kills and digs twice last week.

Midwest Connection: Even though SFA is located deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, the Ladyjacks have extended their recruiting arm to the fertile grounds of the midwestern part of the United States to help supply this season's roster. For the second consecutive year the Ladyjacks will have three midwesterners on the squad, with Emily Franklin coming in from Oregon, Wisc. Add in Paloma Buckner from Washington, Ill., and Laurel Kuepker from LaPorte, Ind., and SFA's roster makes up 60 percent of all midwestern players in the Southland as only Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Lamar carry players from the region.

Preseason All-Conference Ladyjacks: SFA was the only team in the league to land a pair of middle blockers on the preseason all-conference team as MC Bottles and Ashley Bailey each made the list. Bottles was an automatic first team selection after earning first team all-league honors in 2008, making her the first freshman in Debbie Humphreys 21 seasons as head coach to be named to the all-conference first team. As for Bailey, she was named to the preseason second team after being named honorable mention all-conference following last season. Bailey led the Southland in blocks last season at 1.00 per set and the pair will give SFA arguably the strongest middle tandem in the SLC entering this season.

Finding The Offense: Like any year there was significant player turnover for the Ladyjacks following the 2008 season, and like any other year the Ladyjacks will have to have newer faces step in and inherit the offensive load that has departed. However, this year is a little different in the amount of offense that was vacated. With outside hitters Lauren Railey and Shelly Swendig gone, they took over 42 percent of last season's kills with them, and the turnover in setters has left over 83 percent of last season's assist total not on this season's roster. Aside from outside hitters MC Bottles and Ashley Bailey, Kelsey Owens returns as the only outside hitter with over 100 kills from 2008. As for the setter position, the top returner from a year ago is Paloma Buckner who dished out 127 assists from a year ago, which is the least amount of returning assists the Ladyjacks had on the roster since 2003 after Sunni Williams took 1,560 with her in her final season. That year Julie Goodson returned with the top assist mark from the previous season of just 59.



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