THIS WEEK: Saint Louis volleyball (5-8) opens Atlantic 10 Conference play this weekend with two matches on the road. The Billikens face Xavier (7-7) Friday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m. (CT). Nationally ranked Dayton (8-4), the defending A-10 champion, is the opponent Saturday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. (CT). Dayton, Xavier and Saint Louis occupy the first three spots in the 2012 A-10 preseason coaches' poll.
TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets for all Billiken volleyball home matches can be purchased at the gate, by phone at (314) 977-4SLU or online at www.SLUBillikens.com. Single-match tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth. SLU students are admitted free with a valid University ID.
FOLLOWING THE ACTION: All Billiken home matches this season will be video streamed live on the Internet at www.SLUBillikens.com. Subscriptions are available for $79.95 annually or $9.95 a month. Live statistics also will be offered free of charge for all home matches. Free live stats and subscription video streaming are available for the matches at Xavier and Dayton. Go to the www.SLUBillikens.com home page and find the Upcoming Events entries, located just below Top Stories, to access these features.
ABOUT THE BILLIKENS: Lauren Baumet and Lindsey Dinkelacker top the Billiken kill chart with 109 apiece. Baumet (2.42) holds a slight edge over Dinkelacker (2.37) in kills per set. Carly Marcum and Megan Gilbert are tied for third with 93 kills and 2.02 kills per set. Grace Bonoma leads the team with 198 digs (4.30 per set), followed by Dinkelacker (141, 3.07 per set), Cassie Clarke (117, 2.54 per set) and Anna Church (96, 2.40 per set). Marcum sets the pace in blocks (48, 1.04 per set) and is joined by Gilbert (32, 0.70 per set) and Carly Schumacher (27, 0.64 per set) in the top three. Clarke averages 9.07 assists per set, while Bonoma and Church are battling for the team lead in service aces with 14 and 13, respectively.
CAN YOU DIG IT?: The Billikens rank 36th in the nation in digs (16.93 per set) in the latest NCAA statistics report.
BILLIKENS IN THE A-10 STATS: Saint Louis ranks second in the Atlantic 10 Conference in digs (16.93 per set). The Billikens are fifth in lowest opponents' hitting percentage (.173) and sixth in blocks (1.88 per set) and assists (11.35 per set). Grace Bonoma is among the top 10 in two categories, ranking sixth in digs (4.30 per set) and 10th in service aces (0.30 per set). Carly Marcum is sixth in blocks (1.04 per set), and Anna Church is sixth in service aces (0.32 per set).
LAST TIME OUT: The Bills were 0-3 at Northwestern's Wildcat Classic last weekend. SLU fell in three sets to Western Michigan and Northwestern and was edged 3-2 by Delaware.
A LOOK AT XAVIER: The Musketeers were picked to finish second in the A-10 behind Dayton in the preseason coaches' poll. Xavier is holding opponents to a .161 attack percentage, third lowest in the conference, and is fourth in the league in blocks (2.07 per set) and digs (15.82 per set). Sarah Brown (3.16 kills per set), an honorable mention on the 2011 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America team, and Alex Smith (2.25 kills per set) are the Musketeers' top two offensive threats. Smith is sixth in the A-10 with a .321 attack percentage, while Brown ranks ninth in kills. Stephanie Vorherr, a three-time selection as A-10 Libero of the Year, leads the team and is second in the conference with 4.92 digs per set. Aubree Smith, the 2011 A-10 Rookie of the Year (0.86 per set), and Alex Smith (0.82 per set) lead Xavier in blocks.
A LOOK AT DAYTON: The Flyers, ranked 22nd in this week's AVCA national poll, host Butler Friday night before welcoming the Billikens. Dayton is atop the A-10 in attack percentage (.254), kills (13.93 per set) and assists (13.10 per set) while ranking third in blocks (2.44 per set) and fourth in service aces (1.39 per set). The Flyers return three AVCA All-Americans from a year ago in Megan Campbell (third team), Rachel Krabacher (honorable mention) and Samantha Selsky (honorable mention). Krabacher and Selsky were the A-10's Player of the Year and Setter of the Year, respectively, last season. This year, Krabacher leads the A-10 in kills (4.57 per set) and points (5.01 per set), while three Flyers - Campbell (.358, third), Isolde Hannan (.310, seventh) and Shayne Brown (.298, eighth) - are among the league leaders in attack percentage. Selsky is third in assists (11.44 per set). Dayton's top defenders are Hannan, second in the A-10 in blocks (1.32 per set), and Janna Krafka, third in the conference in digs (4.59 per set).
HEAD COACH KENT MILLER: Head coach Kent Miller is in his second season at Saint Louis. Miller, who came to SLU after serving two seasons as an assistant at Illinois, spent 12 years as head coach at Toledo. In two seasons with the Fighting Illini, he helped the team reach two Sweet 16s and post a 50-15 record. Miller played a significant role in the Illini reaching a No. 3 national ranking, and he coached four AVCA All-Americans, one Academic All-American and six All-Big Ten selections during his tenure. Prior to Illinois, Miller recorded 136 wins in 12 years as head coach of Toledo. Inheriting a program that had finished with only two winning seasons in 17 years, he rebuilt the Rockets into a contender in the Mid-American Conference. Miller's teams also were successful in the classroom as the Rockets earned nine AVCA team academic achievement awards. He coached Kate Bean, who became the first UT volleyball student-athlete to earn ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first-team honors in 2005 and 2006. In addition, Miller has vast experience on the international volleyball scene. He was an assistant on the USA National Team from 1987-96. With the USA Women's Olympic Squad, Miller was an assistant on the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Team that won the bronze medal. Miller is aided this season by assistant coaches Ben Spurlock and Sue Webber and volunteer assistant Kyle Homeyer.COMING UP: Saint Louis hosts A-10 foes Duquesne and George Washington Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28-29, in Chaifetz Pavilion. Match times are 7 p.m. for the Duquesne contest and 4:30 p.m. for the GW tilt.