LONG BEACH, Calif. – Fresh off an emotional, three-win weekend that included a victory over Indiana and former coach Sherry Dunbar, College of Charleston travels west for its toughest three-match tournament this season.
The Cougars (7-0) will play in the Long Beach State/Loyola Marymount Tournament on Friday and Saturday, taking on Seattle (2-7) on Friday at 2 p.m. ET before facing Long Beach State (2-4) on its home court at 10 p.m. ET. Action moves on Saturday across Los Angeles to Loyola Marymount’s campus where the Cougars face LMU (3-3) on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET.
Charleston enters the weekend as one of just 27 unbeaten teams in all of Division I volleyball. Already with wins over Georgia Tech and Indiana, the Cougars will have the opportunity to make a statement on a national stage as Long Beach State received votes in last week’s AVCA Top 25 poll. California is a hot bed of women’s volleyball as it is one of just six states with schools to have ever won national championships (USC, UCLA, Pacific, Long Beach State, Stanford).
Senior Darcy Dorton was recognized this week for her strong play in last weekend’s Hampton Inn CofC Invitational. She was named the CAA Offensive Player of the Week after picking up Tournament MVP honors as she led the Cougars to a perfect 3-0 weekend with wins over Coastal Carolina, S.C. State and Indiana. Adding in a sweep of Charleston Southern on Tuesday, Dorton finished the week with 44 kills (4.0 per set) and a .348 attacking percentage. She also led the team in blocks with six and tallied 16 digs. Her season average of 3.59 kills/set currently ranks fourth in the CAA.
A native of Muncie, Ind., Dorton played well against the representative of her home state, pounding a match-high 18 kills in Charleston’s 3-1 victory over the Hoosiers, the first in program history over a Big 10 school.
Junior Andi Zbojniewicz won All-Tournament honors as she gathered 16 digs against Indiana, with her defense helping to limit the Hoosiers to .166 hitting in the second, third and fourth sets. Melissa Morello also made the All-Tournament team with 10 kills and seven digs against IU.
This season, CofC is leading the CAA in kills (13.92), assists (12.84) and in hitting percentage (.294) a mark that currently ranks 22nd in the country. CofC’s average home attendance of 368 ranks second among all CAA teams.
Charleston is knocking on another door of program history as the Cougars will work to post the best start in program history with a couple of wins this weekend. The 2005 squad that finished 32-2 and won CofC’s first NCAA Tournament match started that season 8-0 before losing to then-No. 16 Tennessee. CofC is just two wins away from topping that start.
Fans can follow live stats through the GameTracker links on the sites of Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount, respectively. LBSU will offer live audio for CofC’s Friday matchup with the 49ers, while LMU has live video for Saturday night’s matchup. Fans are reminded that live twitter updates are always available on @CofCVolleyball.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
College of Charleston will be relying on limited scouting reports this weekend as the Cougars have never faced any of the three teams in the tournament.
The Seattle Redhawks are a member of the WAC, and coming off a loss to No. 20 Oregon on Tuesday night, putting them at 2-7 for the season. Seattle has played an extremely tough schedule with eight road matches including tilts against Oregon, Washington, Arizona State, UNLV and Gonzaga. The RedHawks average 11.1 kills/set and 2.0 blocks per set. Iris Ivanis leads the team with 68 kills and Allison Farley has 23 blocks.
Long Beach State has a rich volleyball history with five national championships and 26 NCAA Tournament appearances, including every year from 1987-2011. The collegiate home of Misty May-Treanor, Long Beach State plays in the Walter Pyramid for one of the most unique volleyball atmospheres in the nation. This season, the 49ers have scheduled tough with its four losses coming against then-No. 18 Florida State, then-No. 17 Kentucky, Air Force and Miami. LBSU knocked off Illinois to open the season. Delainey Aigner-Swesey leads The Beach with a 3.59 kill/set average and 2.37 digs per set. 2012 All-American Chisolm Okpala is a force in the middle with a .345 attacking percentage and 1.15 blocks per set.
Loyola Marymount earned an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament as a member of the powerful West Coast Conference. The WCC had six teams make the field of 64, but the Lions fell in the first round to Western Kentucky. LMU Head Coach Tom Black was recently chosen as an assistant coach for the USA Women’s National team. The Lions are 3-3 with wins over North Texas, Albany and Lamar and losses to then-No. 12 UCLA, Texas A&M and Lamar. Litara Keil and Kathleen Luft lead the squad with 60 and 53 kills, respectively, and the Lions hit .221 as a team.
The trip to California is the first full cross-country trek for the Cougars since the 2006 season when the Cougars played at San Diego State and at Cal State Fullerton.
Current senior Taeler Davis and junior Andi Zbojniewicz both hail from the Golden State, and the Cougars will bring the show just a little closer to friends and family of the two CofC starters. Davis played at Pacific University before transferring to Charleston, while Zbojniewicz was an AVCA/Under Armour High School All-American out of Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Calif.