FORT LAUDERDALE –
With the regular season coming to a close over the next two weekends, the Nova Southeastern University volleyball team (18-10, 8-5 SSC) will be looking to complete a banner year with their sights set on their first NCAA postseason bid since 2009. Before getting to that point though, the Sharks will match up with both Eckerd and Saint Leo in Sunshine State Conference play this weekend in their final home stand of 2015 at NSU Arena at the Don Taft University Center.
It will be a huge weekend for the Sharks. Not just because of the strong SSC competition the team will face. Or with a postseason bid weighing in the balance. This weekend is much more. When NSU hosts Eckerd on Friday night at 7 p.m., the Sharks volleyball team will be the featured athletic event for NSU's 2015 Homecoming festivities where a homecoming court will be crowned. In addition, Saturday's 4 p.m. match against Saint Leo will be senior day where NSU's three seniors Sydney Cook
(Miami, Fla.), Caitlin Donahue
(Miami, Fla.) and Dana Holger
(Lino Lakes, Minn.) will be recognized for their four years of service to the Sharks' volleyball program.
"We are tremendously excited for this weekend's matches," head coach Jenn King said. "Hosting homecoming is a great opportunity to share our program with the NSU community. And of course we cannot wait to honor our senior class and their impact on NSU volleyball Saturday afternoon. It's going to be a great weekend of competition and our second crack at some very talented SSC teams."
The Sharks will open on Friday night against the 13-13 Tritons. Earlier this year, NSU traveled to St. Petersburg to face Eckerd on their home court, but fell 3-0 which evened the all-time series between the two teams at 25-25. The Tritons do have two of the better offensive players in the league that will draw significant attention in JaQuayla Baker and Tjasa Kotnik. Baker is ranked fifth in the league with a .310 season hitting percentage, while Kotnik leads all SSC hitters averaging 4.02 kills per set.
On Saturday, the Sharks will turn around and face the second-place team in the SSC with Saint Leo coming into the arena at 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the SSC. The Sharks are currently tied with Saint Leo in the conference standings and they will be looking to avenge an earlier season 3-0 loss to the Lions on the road. Although a strong offensive team, the Lions do struggle at the net ranking at the bottom of the SSC team leaders in blocks with 1.55 per set. SLU's setter Ashlee Hodgskin leads the SSC in assists, so the Sharks need to hone in on how she drives the offensive attack to be successful as the two teams battle for the lone second-place position in the league standings.
Coming off a 2-1 week, the Sharks have recently moved up one spot in the most recent NCAA South Regional rankings to No. 9. Last week, the Sharks fell to now the top regionally ranked team in Palm Beach Atlantic 3-0, but came back and picked up two wins to close out the week. A 3-1 win over SSC provisional member Embry Riddle and a 3-0 over Rollins, both of which were on the road. Although the Sharks struggled at the midpoint of the season, they have come on strong as of late winning four out of their last five, including a five-set win over then No. 17 Florida Southern.
As they have been all season, the Sharks will be led by Holger. She has had a career season by leading the team 379 kills and 3.58 kills/set. She will be among the three honored on Saturday having moved into third-place all-time with 1,168 career kills. Cook has also returned to preseason form after missing 10 matches in the middle of the season due to an injury. She too will be recognized as one of two seniors who have eclipsed 1,000 kills for her career. Finally, Donahue will be the Sharks' last senior honoree. She is currently second among the conference leaders with a .324 hitting percentage and has set new career-highs twice this season of 15 kills in a single match.
In addition to homecoming and senior day, all matches will be broadcast live by visiting www.NSUSharks.com
where you will find links to the Sharks multimedia portal for live video streaming and live stats of the action as it happens.