Volleyball's Final Road Stretch Slated for This Weekend

Oct. 27, 2009

This week: Niagara and Canisius

Niagara Purple Eagles (17-7 overall, 10-3 MAAC)
Loyola Greyhounds (11-16 overall, 6-6 MAAC)
When: Saturday, October 30
Where: Gallagher Center (Niagara University, N.Y.)
Time: 2 p.m.

Canisius Golden Griffins (10-13 overall, 7-6 MAAC)
Loyola Greyhounds (11-16 overall, 6-6 MAAC)
When: Sunday, October 31
Where: Koessler Athletic Center (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Time: 3 p.m.

Starting off
Last weekend, the Greyhounds bounced back from being swept on their own floor Saturday by Marist with a 3-1 upset win over Siena -- arguably the team's biggest win of the season. No Loyola volleyball team had defeated the Saints since October of 2002 until last Sunday when Nina Camaioni and Karlee Woodward led the team past the hard-hitting duo of Burgandy McCurty and Aubrey Bobo. While McCurty, Division I leader in kills per set, scorched the Greyhounds for 32 kills, Loyola turned out one of the best defensive performances of the season and effectively neutralized the rest of the Saints' offense. With the top four teams advancing to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships in Buffalo, Loyola is now three games out of the top four with six left to play.

Purple Eagles: Take Two
Niagara made a run for the top spot in the conference last weekend when they led Fairfield (17-7 overall, 11-1 MAAC) after two sets in Fairfield, Conn. But the Stags came from behind and took the last three sets to remain in first. The loss ended Niagara's school-best eight-game winning streak. Loyola dropped a heartbreaking five-set match to the visiting Purple Eagles earlier this month. Woodward had a career-high 21 kills on .600 hitting and three blocks and Camaioni had 24 kills and just three errors on 62 swings (.339). Loyola dominated the Eagles across the board statistically and kept Kari Honomichl and Hannah Hedrick's kill totals to a minimum, but lost the fifth set 15-12 in the final minutes.

Golden Griffins: Take Two
Another tough five-set loss for the Greyhounds, this one again came down to the final minutes and resulted in a 15-12 set five loss. Camaioni put down a career-high 25 kills and Woodward and Katie Dircks each contributed 14. Loyola was close to putting the match away in the fourth set, but Canisius came from behind for a 25-22 win to force the decisive fifth set. Canisius remains in the hunt for the top four, but fell to the fifth spot last weekend after getting swept by Fairfield and Iona.

Leading the Way
This week's NCAA stats report had Camaioni's kills-per-set average ranked at No. 18. Camaioni has recorded 421 kills in 95 sets for an average of 4.43 per set. Her total and average is second best behind Siena's McCurty (435 total, 5.51 per set), who holds down the nation's No. 1 spot. The junior outside hitter is the only Greyhound to go 3-for-3 in all-tournament teams, having been named to the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational, the Battle of Baltimore and the Duke Invitational all-tournament teams and was also named MAAC Offensive Player of the Week on September 8.

1,000 Kill Club
Karlee Woodward's nine kills against Marist on September 20 put her over the 1,000 kill mark. The senior middle blocker from Scottsdale, Ariz., was honored for the accomplishment before Loyola took on Canisius at Reitz Arena with the game ball.

Born to Dig
Two weeks ago, junior libero Brittany Born broke Loyola's all-time dig record after putting up 18 against Manhattan. Born's 18 put her career total at 1,383, surpassing Maguire's mark of 1,381 by two. As a freshman in 2007, Born totaled 626 to grab Loyola's single-season dig record. Junior outside hitter Nina Camaioni holds the single-match record of 36.

Studly Setter
Freshman setter Aubrey Kirven is third in the MAAC with 9.41 assists per game and an even higher 10.15 mark in conference matches. The multitalented setter also leads the team (along with Camaioni) with 22 service aces, is fourth on the team with 22 blocks, and has also chipped in 183 digs and 55 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.

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.