VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Billiken Invitational
WHEN: Friday-Saturday, Sept. 14-15, 2018
WHERE: St. Louis, Mo. (Chaifetz Pavilion)
PARTICIPATING TEAMS: Saint Louis (1-8), Kansas City (7-4), Murray State (5-4), UNLV (6-3)
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (all times Central)
• Friday, Sept. 14 • UNLV vs. Murray State • 3:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 15 • Kansas City vs. UNLV • 10 a.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 15 • Murray State vs. Kansas City • 5 p.m.
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A LOOK AT THE BILLIKENS
• Saint Louis concludes regular-season tournament play this weekend by hosting the Billiken Invitational. Joining the Billikens are Kansas City of the Western Athletic Conference, Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference and UNLV of the Mountain West Conference.
• Sophomore OH Maya Taylor continues to lead SLU’s offensive attack. Taylor tops the Atlantic 10 Conference and ranks 19th in the nation in kills per set (4.47), and she is second in the league and 35th in the nation in points per set (4.73).
• Freshman OH/RS Isabelle Walsh leads Billiken hitters with a .267 attack percentage, good for 13th in the A-10.
• Freshman DS Cayce Chaykowsky contributes a team-high 3.70 digs per set, a mark that places her eighth in the conference.
• Sophomore setter Kennedy Cordia records 8.67 assists (fifth in the A-10) and 2.50 digs per set.
• Isabelle Walsh collected All-Tournament honors at last week’s Sycamore Invitational, hosted by Indiana State. In three matches, Walsh had 31 kills (2.82/set), posted a .333 attack percentage (31-8-69) and added eight digs and six blocks.
• Click here for the Billikens’ complete statistics.
• SLU was tabbed for a third-place Atlantic 10 Conference finish by the league’s coaches in their preseason poll. Click here for the story.
• The Billikens returned four starters and seven additional players from last year’s team that finished third in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 10-4 record. Five freshmen join four seniors, two juniors and five sophomores. Click here for the complete 2018 roster.
• Leading the returning group are junior OH Sien Gallop, sophomore OH Maya Taylor and sophomore S Kennedy Cordia.
• Gallop, who led NCAA Division I in service aces per set (0.67) and total service aces (67), was selected to the 2017 Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team. She tallied 2.99 kills per set and 2.34 digs per set.
• Taylor was tabbed A-10 Rookie of the Year. Her 3.51 kills per set ranked second in the A-10, and she led SLU hitters with a .245 attack percentage.
• Cordia joined Taylor on the league’s All-Rookie team. She registered a team-high 7.17 assists per set and added 2.16 digs per set.
• Head coach Kent Miller is in his eighth season on the Saint Louis sideline.
• The Billikens begin conference play next week on the road, taking on George Washington Friday, Sept. 21, and George Mason Saturday, Sept. 22.
• Click here for the complete 2018 schedule.
A LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND’S OPPONENTS
• Kansas City fell to Kansas State Tuesday night, but the Kangaroos had won four straight and five of six matches prior to the loss. Six starters – including junior OH Alicia Harrington, a second-team All-Conference performer – returned from the 2017 team that was 9-19 overall and 5-9 (sixth) in the WAC. Redshirt-senior MH Tyrecia Lukes ranks eighth in the nation in attack percentage (.452) and leads UMKC in kills per set (3.55) and blocks per set (0.95). Junior DS/L Rhegan Spiegel produces 3.39 digs per set. STATISTICS
• Murray State, which returned every starter from last year’s team that went 22-9 overall and 12-4 (third) in the OVC, is the favorite to win the 2018 OVC title. Among the returnees are junior OH Rachel Giustino and junior RS Rachel Holthaus, both of whom earned first-team All-Conference honors in 2017, and sophomore MB Katirah Johnson, last year’s OVC Freshman of the Year. Giustino (4.38 kills/set) and redshirt-senior MB Dacia Brown (3.86 kills/set) lead the attack, while sophomore L Becca Fernandez has a team-high 3.66 digs/set. STATISTICS
• UNLV brings a three-match winning streak to Chaifetz Pavilion. Two of the Rebels’ six victories were 3-1 decisions over A-10 teams Duquesne and Fordham. Four starters are back from the 2017 team that was 8-23 overall and 4-14 (11th) in the MWC. Sophomore OH Mariena Hayden is the national leader in service aces per set (1.21), and the Rebels top the nation in that category (2.30). Hayden ranks 12th nationally in kills per set (4.70), hits .299 and leads the team in digs per set (3.94). Freshman MB Kate Brennan is 30th in attack percentage (.402), and senior MB Elsa Descamps has a team-best 1.21 blocks per set. STATISTICS