Oct 5, 2012 2:28 PM by UL Sports Information
The Ragin' Cajuns volleyball team seeks to get back on the winning track this weekend in the Sunshine State, battling FIU and Florida Atlantic in Sun Belt Conference matches.
UL seeks to end a three-match losing streak, which dates back to the marathon five-setter against North Texas. The Cajuns (9-10, 1-3 Sun Belt) were swept by Western Kentucky last Friday and fell in four sets in a marathon match to Middle Tennessee.
The Cajuns "Florida Swing" starts here Friday evening at U.S. Century Bank Arena against FIU (5-12, 2-3 Sun Belt). First serve with the Panthers is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (CDT). Live stats and a free live video feed can be accessed via RaginCajuns.com.
On Saturday, the Cajuns travel an hour north on Interstate 95 to meet Florida Atlantic (4-11, 0-5 Sun Belt) at FAU Arena in Boca Raton, Fla.
While the records might indicate that the Cajuns' opposition for the weekend is experiencing a down year, head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot knows her team must improve behind the service line for the current losing streak to end.
"Both of the Florida teams are struggling a bit, but we must not take them lightly," Mazeitis-Fontenot remarked. "The best thing we can do against them is serve tough. That was one thing we did not do last weekend.
"We didn't serve as tough against Western and Middle. We're the No. 1 acing team in the conference and that only showed up in the second match - nine aces against Middle Tennessee - and almost all of them were in the second set. If we are back serving with confidence and can really work our serve in our favor, it can be a good weekend for us."
One area the Cajuns are seeking to do a better job on the Florida trip is attacking. UL went into the WKU-MT weekend hitting above .210 for the season and had hit above .200 in four of the previous five matches, only to experience a season-tying low .070 vs. WKU and .184 against MT.
Louisiana saw an increase in attack errors - 51 over seven sets - and hit into 20 blocks over the weekend. Mazeitis-Fontenot is confident her group can resolve the issue quickly.
"Now is the time to rebuild their confidence and remind them of the great things they've done so far this season," Mazeitis-Fontenot explained. "You can tell our confidence level took a hit when when Blaire Claypoole, the kid that's been getting it done in the middle for us the entire season, is struggling to hit an overpass...that's something she's been doing well all year long.
"That tells me it's just a confidence issue. We worked this week to really rebuild it before traveling to Florida."
UL is in need of a pair of wins on the Florida trip to keep pace with UALR and North Texas in the Sun Belt West division. The Trojans are off to a 4-0 start in league play, while the Mean Green sits in second place at 3-1.
"Hopefully last weekend was a lesson learned for our girls," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "They cannot take anyone lightly. They have to come out and play stellar every time because there is not anyone that they can look past. There's not anytime that they cannot play their best game. We definitely experienced that last weekend."
Mandi Gavin lowered her total needed for 3,000 career assists to 162 following the WKU-MT weekend. Gavin is on the verge of becoming only the fourth player in school history to reach 3,000 career assists and with a good showing in Florida can inch closer to reaching the milestone next weekend at Earl K. Long Gym.
Libero Caitlyn Auxilien needs 18 more digs to surpass her freshman campaign total (308). Auxilien scooped up 14 digs against MT, her 15th double digit digs outing.
The Cajuns collected 10 aces over the WKU-MT weekend, increasing their season, Sun Belt-leading total to 114. Through 19 matches and 69 sets, the Cajuns are averaging 1.65 aces per set. The next closest league team is South Alabama, averaging 1.41 aces per set.
The next victory gives the Cajuns 10 which would signal double digits in wins for a third straight season. The last time the Cajuns tallied double digits in wins in three consecutive seasons was 2000-02.
The meeting with FIU marks the final one as Sun Belt Conference foes. The Panthers depart for Conference USA at the end of the 2012-13 athletic year. The all-time series with FIU is deadlocked at 8-all. Last season, the Cajuns erased a 2-0 deficit by claiming the final three sets on Nov. 6, 2011, to pick up the first win over the Panthers since 2004.
Louisiana is 4-2 all-time against Florida Atlantic. The series began when FAU joined the Sun Belt in 2006. The Cajuns have won the last two meetings both in straight set sweeps. UL swept the Owls last Nov. 4 at Earl K. Long Gym on the strength of a 53-22 advantage in kills and .209-.069 edge in hitting percentage.
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