MAAC Action Continues This Weekend With The Greyhounds Squaring Off Against Rider And Iona

Sept. 24, 2009

This week: Rider and Iona

Rider Broncs (2-11 overall, 0-2 MAAC)
Loyola Greyhounds (6-10 overall, 1-1 MAAC)
Saturday, September 26
Where: Alumni Gymnasium (Lawrenceville, N.J.)
Time: 2 p.m.

Iona Gaels (3-9 overall, 0-2 MAAC)
Loyola Greyhounds (6-10 overall, 1-1 MAAC)

When: Sunday, September 27
Where: Reitz Arena
Time: 2 p.m.

Starting off

Splitting the Difference
Loyola will split up its Metro Atlantic Conference matches this week, playing on the road and at home. First up is a road match against at Rider Saturday, followed by a home match Sunday, against Iona. At 1-1, Loyola is currently tied for second in the MAAC. The Greyhounds' 6-10 overall record (.400) is fifth in the conference.

Scouting the Broncs
Rider has viable offensive play options with two strong setters. Elyse Grassmuck currently has a team-leading 193 assists and is averaging 4.71 per set. Amanda Piccolini has tallied 145 assists off the bench and is 10th in the MAAC with a 5.80 average. Brittany Hayes will go toe-to-toe with Loyola's Karlee Woodward. The two middle blockers both put up big kill and blocking numbers for their respective teams. Hayes currently has 76 kills and 33 blocks, while Woodward has 105 kills and 35 blocks. One of the Broncs' best all-around players, Hayes also has dug 20 balls and has aced 11 serves. Last year, Loyola went 2-0 against Rider. In the last game of the 2008 season, Nina Camaioni paced the Greyhounds with 13 kills and 29 digs in a 3-2 win. Rider libero Amy Jeary tallied 47 digs.

Scouting the Gaels
After falling to Canisius to open MAAC play, the Gaels nearly took Niagara into five sets Sunday with Rachel Whitten, Theresa Harvey and Sarah Wiener combining for 41 kills. Like Rider, Iona also regularly employs a two-setter option, with Nicole Tamburri doing the majority of the distribution work. Harvey plays all over the court and has 75 kills and 112 digs. The Greyhounds struggled against the Gaels last season, going down in three sets in New Rochelle, and in five at Reitz Arena. Despite out-killing Iona 65-52 in the teams' second meeting last year, the Gaels rallied to put Loyola away with a heated fifth set.

Twin Towers
The world's tallest female twins, 6-foot-8 middle blockers Claire and Ann Recht, helped American overtake Loyola 3-0 Tuesday night at Reitz Arena. Strong rally play helped the Greyhounds keep the scores close. But Loyola was overpowered in the end by a big, athletic team. Karlee Woodward had a breakout game putting up 10 kills on 12 swings and making just one error to finish with a season-high .750 attack clip.

One for the Records
Last week was a career-high week for the Greyhounds. Camaioni and freshman setter Aubrey Kirven both posted career-high numbers in Loyola's win over Marist, while Woodward joined the 1,000 kill club in the same game. Junior outside hitter Camaioni put up 25 kills -- two more than her previous high of 23 -- and Kirven extended her previous mark by three, with 46 assists. Woodward's nine kills put her career total at 1,003. Katie Dircks almost joined the group as well, tallying 14 kills against the Red Foxes. The freshman hitter was just one shy of matching her high mark.

Leading the Way
This week's NCAA stats report had Camaioni's kills-set-average ranked at No. 22 in the country, up more than 10 spots from No. 38 last week. Camaioni has recorded 232 kills in 52 sets for an average of 4.29 per set. Her total far surpasses anyone else's mark in the MAAC and her average is second best behind Siena's Burgandy McCurty (154 total, 4.67). Camaioni padded her numbers back in the second week of the season racking up 70 kills in 14 games in the Battle of Baltimore. The performance led to her first MAAC Offensive Player of the Week award. Camaioni is the only Greyhound to go 3-for-3 in all-tournament teams this season, having been named to the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational, the Battle of Baltimore and the Duke Invitational all-tournament teams.

Studly Setter
Freshman setter Aubrey Kirven has been holding down the second second place spot in the MAAC with 9.04 assists per game. The multitalented setter also leads the team (along with Camaioni) with 15 service aces, has 11 blocks and has also chipped in 111 digs and 28 kills. With 146 assists in the Battle of Baltimore, Kirven was named to her first collegiate all-tournament team as well as named MAAC Rookie of the Week.

Born to Dig
Junior libero Brittany Born comes into the 2009 season with 1,109 career digs. With 197 already in `09, Born is on pace to surpass Megan Maguire's career mark of 1,381 this season (75 away). Born's 626 digs as a freshman in 2007, is currently first all-time. Junior outside hitter Nina Camaioni holds the single match record of 36.

Carolina on my Mind
For Loyola's third and final non-conference tournament, the Greyhounds faced what will be arguably the toughest test of the season, as they took on No. 1-ranked Penn State at the Duke Invitational in Durham, N.C. After a Friday night match against the two-time defending national champions, Loyola faced the Blue Devils and College of Charleston at the storied Cameron Indoor Stadium

The Returning Half
Loyola returned six letterwinners this season, three of them being full-time starters. All together, the Greyhounds return 553 sets played, 664 kills, 847 assists, 1,446 digs and 191 blocks.