Posted: Oct 26, 2012 11:22 PM by UL Sports Information
The Ragin' Cajuns volleyball team starts a key four-match stretch against Sun Belt West division foes this weekend hosting UL-Monroe on Saturday and North Texas on Sunday. Both matches start at 1 p.m. at Earl K. Long Gym.
The match with UL-Monroe serves as the program's "Dig Pink Match" while the North Texas match is being designated "Senior Day". It's the last weekend matches of the 2012 season at E.K. Long Gym.
Live coverage of both matches - both video and stats - is available at RaginCajuns.com.
Fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month on Saturday. Pink novelty items will be given away and fans can judge the team's pumpkin decorating contest in the main lobby.
The Ragin' Cajuns (14-12, 5-5 Sun Belt) aim to keep pace in the race for Sun Belt Tournament seeding - presently in sixth place and only two games out of second place - and remain in the hunt for the SBC West division title.
UL trails Arkansas State and UALR (both 6-4 in SBC) by one game for the West division lead. The Cajuns trail Troy (7-3 SBC) by two games for the No. 2 seed in the upcoming league postseason tournament.
The Cajuns look to ride the recent surge on offense in rematches with the Warhawks (5-14, 1-9 SBC) and Mean Green (19-10, 5-5 SBC). Since the sweep of the ASU-UALR weekend, the Cajuns are averaging 15.44 kills per set and hitting .228.
"It is very important for us to not rely on what we've already done," head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot suggested. "In practices we have gone back to practicing the fundamentals and talked about our defense in a basic form...breaking it down and understanding what the small details are going to be when we enter the matches against UL-Monroe and North Texas.
"One thing I've reminded the girls all year long is we need to control our side of the net," Mazeitis-Fontenot added. "I can give them all of the most detailed scouting reports to follow, but if we don't control our side it doesn't matter. We control our side, it doesn't matter who is on the other side as long as we play our style of volleyball."
Saturday's match with the Warhawks starts the second half of play in the SBC West. The Cajuns went 3-1 in the first half, the lone defeat coming against the Mean Green. UL goes for the season sweep of UL-Monroe and seeks to gain a measure of revenge against North Texas for a five-set heartbreaker in Denton back on Sept. 22.
The Cajuns dominated the Warhawks back on Sept. 20 in Monroe, out-hitting them .256-.078 and cruising to a sweep behind four different players who accrued five kills or more. Andrea Hole and Kelly Wiesmann both finished with eight apiece to lead the way.
North Texas rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the first round of divisional play in Denton by using its stingy defense to limit the Ragin' Cajuns below .100 hitting in the final two sets. There were 48 ties and 24 lead changes over the five-set battle. In the end, the Mean Green's frontline defense which produced 15 blocks stole the show.
Mandi Gavin, a week removed from becoming only the fourth player in program history to amass 3,000 career assists, enters the ULM-NT weekend needing 64 assists to move past Lisa Bordes (3,171 assists) into third place on the program's career charts.
Gavin, and teammate Blair Claypoole, are playing their final weekend matches at Earl K. Long Gym. They will be honored in a pre-match ceremony on Sunday.
Claypoole is one of five Cajuns attackers averaging above 1.90 kills per set. The Mesquite, Texas, native ranks second on the squad averaging 2.33 kills per set on a .277 hitting percentage. Her 224 kills mark her personal best in a Cajuns uniform.
Lavinia Tataran threw down a season-high 19 kills at South Alabama and upped her season total to 272. Tatran is on the verge of joining Lesley Mirarchi (364 in 2010 and 302 in 2011) as recent Cajuns to post 300-plus kills in a season in recent years.
Caitlyn Auxilien is four digs shy of 400 and is all but assured of becoming only the third player in the rally scoring era to reach 400 digs in a season (Lindsay Brown and Erika Castro the others). This season's digs total (396 actual) outdistanced her freshman season total of 308 by a wide margin.
Louisiana seeks to place its service back on track. The Sun Belt's leader in aces with a season average of 1.5 aces per set, managed only three aces on the Troy-South Alabama swing. The Cajuns have a quartet of players with 30-plus aces - Andrea Hole (31), Mandi (30), Taylor Meade (25) and Tataran (24).
The Warhawks come into Earl K. Long Gym with the third-best blocking squad in the Sun Belt, averaging 2.47 blocks per set. Middle blockers Iren Marinova and Maria Garcia rank fifth and sixth in blocks per set average, respectively and pace the Warhawk defense. Libero/outside hitter Marcela Araya is second in the conference, averaging 4.71 digs per set.
It's the Warhawks' final road contest of the 2012 season.
Thanks to the consistent attack of Courtney Windham and Karissa Flack, North Texas is posting one of the top attack percentages in school history. The Mean Green is hitting .228 so far this year, which is the third highest in program history. Windham is fourth in school history with a .327 hitting mark, and Flack isn't far behind in third with .330.
Carnae Dillard piled up 21 kills and 11 digs in the first meeting with the Ragin' Cajuns. NT enters Sunday's match attempting to post its 20th win of the season which would mark only the sixth 20-win season in program history.
UL has won 24 of the past 33 matches at Earl K. Long Gym and is 6-2 in the facility this season (19-8 in sets). The only two defeats at home came on the Western Kentucky-Middle Tennessee weekend (Sept. 28-29).
SET POINTS: The Ragin' Cajuns makeup match at Jackson State set for Tuesday, Oct. 30 has been canceled (head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot elected to forego the trip in order for her team to focus on a critical road trip to Arkansas State and UALR Friday-Sunday, Nov. 2-4)...UL is 45-46 dating back to 2010 under head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot...UL's next win will allow the team to equal the most recent best three-year run of 46 wins recorded from 1999-2001 under the direction of Chris Campbell...The Ragin' Cajuns have won the opening set of a match 19 times in 26 outings...Dating back to the Sept. 8 match vs. Jacksonville in Florida's Active Ankle Challenge, the Cajuns have won the opening set in 14 of the last 17 matches... On the Troy-USA trip, the Cajuns posted 60-plus kills both outings and averaged 15-plus kills each time...Prior to USA hitting .250, UL had held the opposition below .200 hitting in six straight matches.