ELON, N.C. – After wrapping up its last non-conference tournament last weekend, the Elon volleyball team (13-3) opens up Colonial Athletic Association play this weekend as it hosts James Madison (8-5, 1-0) and William & Mary (6-7, 0-1). The Phoenix plays its first CAA match of the season on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. against the Dukes and welcomes the Tribe on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 2 p.m. Both matches will be played in Alumni Gym.
A Look at the Phoenix
Elon finished 4-1 last week, capping a nine-match winning streak and posting a 3-1 record in the Bulldog Invitational in Charleston, S.C. All four of the maroon and gold victories last week came in the form of 3-0 match sweeps with those victories coming against North Carolina Central, Savannah State, The Citadel and Charleston Southern. The only setback the Phoenix experienced was a 3-1 loss to Austin Peay. Both Sydney Busa and Kam Terry had strong weeks for Elon as they earned spots on the Bulldog Invitational All-Tournament team. Busa led the Phoenix with 55 kills to average 3.67 kills per set and hit .339, while Terry tallied 49 kills to average 3.06/set. On defense, Ally Karle posted 18 total blocks for 2.0/set followed by Michelle Klein with another 13 blocks as Elon out-blocked opponents 46-21.
Scouting the Dukes
JMU is 8-5 on the season after adding a 3-0 win in its CAA opener against William & Mary on Wednesday night. The Dukes are third in the league in both hitting percentage (.228) and blocks (2.38/set). Janey Goodman leads the team with 195 kills this season and averages 4.24 kills per set to also lead the conference, while ranking 10th in the CAA in aces with 0.28/set. On defense, Taylor Austin is averaging 5.45 digs/set to rank second in the league and 19th in the NCAA. Taylor Gail has posted 48 total blocks on the season for 1.14 blocks/set and is third in the CAA.
Elon vs. James Madison
Outside of conference matches the last two seasons, the Phoenix and the Dukes have only met one other time. JMU owns a 5-0 advantage in the series after claiming both matches last year. The Dukes claimed a 3-1 win on Oct. 24, 2015, in Harrisonburg, Va., in the last meeting.
Scouting the Tribe
W&M is coming off a 3-0 loss at James Madison on Wednesday to fall to 6-8 overall this season. Katie Primatic leads the Tribe attack with a .353 hitting percentage this season that ranks fourth in the league, while Casey Foote and Sydney Biniak lead the team in kills with 172 (3.13/set) and 125 (3.12/set), respectively, to rank seventh and eighth in the CAA. Autumn Brenner is averaging 9.96 assists per set, good for third in the conference, as Sara Zumbach is averaging 3.89 digs/set.
Elon vs. William & Mary
The series between Elon and William & Mary, which is tied at four-all, dates back to 1974. Five of the overall eight meetings have been played in the last eight years with the Phoenix winning the last three straight. The maroon and gold swept the Tribe in the last match on Oct. 28, 2015, in Alumni Gym as Kam Terry led the team with 12 kills followed by nine kills and 13 digs from Sydney Busa.
The Phoenix and the Tribe have faced a number of the same opponents so far this season. Both teams have played matches against Wofford, High Point, Charlotte, Gardner-Webb and Davidson. Elon went 3-2 in those matches with wins against the Terriers, Runnin’ Bulldogs and Wildcats, while William & Mary also went 3-2 with loses to both Wofford and HPU.
The Best Since…
Elon’s 13-3 start to the season is the best mark since the team began the 2009 season 11-0 and then 15-2.
As of Sept. 20, the Phoenix is ranking high in several categories in the conference and in the nation. Nationally, Elon is fourth in total attacks, third in total blocks, fifth in team kills, eighth in team digs and ninth in team assists, ranking first in the CAA in all those categories. Individually, Sydel Curry is second in the league with 10.13 assists/set. Kayla Agae is second in the conference in aces (0.36/set), while Kam Terry is 30th in the nation and second in the league in total kills (201) and third in the CAA in kills per set (3.53). Ally Karle ranks seventh in the NCAA and first in the CAA in total blocks (72) and also leads the conference, ranking 16th nationally, with 1.50 blocks/set. In the CAA, Maddie Jaudon is fourth in digs per set (4.51) and Michelle Klein is eighth in hitting with a .324 percentage.
Head Coach Mary Tendler
Elon head coach Mary Tendler is in her 14th season with the Phoenix program. She enters this weekend with a 211-227 Elon and career coaching record. Tendler earned her 200th career victory on Aug. 30 with the maroon and gold’s win over North Carolina A&T.
Follow the Phoenix
Fans can follow the Phoenix throughout the season with updates on elonphoenix.com. Live stats for every volleyball match will be available on the team’s schedule and home pages on the Elon athletic website. In-game updates will also be provided on Twitter at @elonscores.
Elon plays its first road CAA contests of the season next weekend when it travels to Delaware and Towson. The Phoenix faces the Blue Hens on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. in Newark, Del., then travels to Towson, Md., to face the Tigers on Monday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m