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2016 SLIAC Volleyball Tournament Preview

2016 SLIAC Volleyball Tournament Preview

At A Glance
The 2016 SLIAC Volleyball Tournament teams and seeds have been set and will include Greenville College, Spalding University, Webster University, and Westminster College.

Tournament Schedule at Greenville College
Saturday, November 5
Game 1 - #1 Greenville vs. #4 Webster, 2 p.m.
Game 2 - #2 Westminster vs. #3 Spalding,  4 p.m.
Championship Game - Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 7 p.m.
Collegecasts Championship Game Broadcast link
All Matches on Video - HERE



Greenville claimed their seventh consecutive SLIAC regular season title and will be hosting the conference tournament for a fifth straight year. The Panthers bring a three match winning streak into the tournament and have won nine straight conference matches. The Panthers are hitting .207 as a team, second best in the league, and feature the conference's toughest net defense with 236 total blocks this season. Leading the way at the net is Savannah Sells, a SLIAC best 1.10 blocks per set while hitting .254 and averaging 2.64 kills per set. The team's go to player is Allyson Mitchell, who is second in the SLIAC at 3.71 kills per set. Kirsten Laune runs the offense, averaging 9.38 assists per set.

Overall Record: 23-7
SLIAC Record: 16-2
Tourn. Titles: 2
Last: 2015

Coaches Corner with Tom Ackerman

This is the fifth consecutive year Greenville has hosted the tournament, during which you have gone 44-10 at home, what does playing at home mean to your program?
"Home court advantage is huge for us, we love playing in our gym and we have amazing students, faculty, and staff that support us. This year more than any we knew that home court advantage would be a factor, this is the strongest field of teams I have seen in the SLIAC Tournament."

This is the second straight year your team has topped 200 blocks, how important is that net defense for your team?
"We spend a ton of time on blocking, we know that is the best way to force errors and eliminate big runs by our opponents. Phil Davis joined our staff this year and you can see his impact in our program. In addition to that we have one of the best blockers the SLIAC has ever seen in Savannah Sells. At 6'4' she is a dominant presence at the net and she allows us to create really difficult situations for outside hitters."


Spalding improved their win total by ten this year from last year, amassing 21 wins; the first time they have topped the 20 win mark since 2010 and the third most wins since joining the SLIAC. The Golden Eagles have gone 11-2 in the month of October and will making their second tournament appearance in program history. They feature the league's top hitting attack, with a .211 team percentage. Jessica Diehl has been a force this year, averaging 3.2 kills per set while hitting .395 and recording 101 total blocks. She has benefited from the emergence of Alyssa Cosgrove, 3.02 kills per set. Katelyn Cosgrove controls the attack and averages 9.07 assists per set.

Overall Record: 21-9
SLIAC Record: 13-5
Tourn. Appearances: 2
Tourn. Titles: 0
Last: n/a

Coaches Corner with Bridget Yates

You increased your team's win total by ten matches this year, what has been the difference between last year and this year?
"Last year we lost our senior setter to an injury in our first match and by October we had already suffered too many early season losses to make it to the tournament. This year we were focused on having a strong start to our season, so the team put in more work in the off-season than ever before. They worked with our strength and conditioning coach, spent time together in team building activities, and all worked to stay in shape. The strong start helped us weather a few rough days this season without jeopardizing our post-season opportunities."

This is the program's second trip to the SLIAC Tournament, with three players remaining from that team, what did they learn from their previous experience?
"We all learned that being able to win a single match against one of the best teams in the SLIAC is not enough; being able to beat two in the same day is what it takes to win the tournament. We also learned that it isn't just about having the physical strength to play two tough matches, it's enduring the emotional toll of playing two "win or season is over" matches back to back."


Webster will is making their 22nd consecutive trip to the SLIAC Tournament, the only conference member to appear in every tournament since it's inception. The Gorloks bring a two match winning streak into the tournament. The Gorloks rank second in the league in kills per set (12.01) and are hitting .175 as a team. A balanced Gorlok attack is led by Jory Siebenmorgen, who is averaging 3.01 kills per set while hitting .269 this year. Emily Knowles is averaging 1.94 kills and leads the team with 99 blocks. The Gorloks use a two setter system with Kelsey Hamann and Ashley Robinson taking rotations. The league's top defensive unit in terms of digs per set during conference play is led by Katie O'Toole.

Overall Record: 19-12
SLIAC Record: 13-5
Tourn. Titles: 12
Last: 2014

Coaches Corner with Merry Graf

This is the 22nd time the program has made the SLIAC Tournament, what does it take to maintain that consistency?
"During my tenure I've been very fortunate to have many talented players on my teams. They are dedicated young ladies that work hard on the court and expect to play in the conference tournament each year."

You rank second in the league in kills per set but only have one player in the top ten in kills. Can you talk about the balance of your attack?
"This year we have a variety of players that are all capable of scoring points. Throughout the season they have taken turns stepping up and finding ways to lead our offense."



Westminster has won five of their last seven matches as they enter the tournament. They average a conference best 12.32 kills per set while ranking third in team hitting percentage (.190). Defending SLIAC Player of the Year Hannah Marshall is averaging a 3.52 kills per set while also totaling 179 digs this year. The middle is protected by Amanda Kiso, 1.99 kills and 97 blocks, and Elizabeth Kelley, .442 hitting percentage with 52 blocks. Newcomer Ashley Kistaitis has stepped in to add to the attack by averaging 2.58 kills per set this year. Kayla Reeg led the conference in assists this year and ranks 22nd nationally, averaging 10.15 assists per set.

Overall Record: 18-11
SLIAC Record: 14-4
Tourn. Titles: 2
Last: 1998

Coaches Corner with Curtis Madson

How did your non-conference schedule prepare you for post-season play?
"We really look to try to use a lot of our match-ups to get up against some of the better teams around to see how we stack up and learn what holes we have. It is a vital piece to our formula to try to prepare us for a run come tournament time, when all the teams you play are at a high caliber. I am hoping that some of those matches we played in have prepared us to play in tough situations, like the one we will see on Saturday."

Can you talk of the importance of Kayla Reeg on the court, running the offense and what she brings off the court?
"Kayla is the piece that makes us go. Having her in charge of our offense the past four years has been a blessing. She is an extension of our coaching staff out there, we trust her to run everything out there. She has a great grasp of what we are trying to do and how to get it done. She has been in a leadership position for us her whole career and that carries over to all facets of our program. She has been one of the people that we have leaned on to really get our programs culture moving in the right direction."

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