Three matches await the fifth-ranked Park University women's volleyball team, this week, beginning Thursday night with the season's only out-of-conference home match, when the Pirates host Baker University on the Pirate Sports Network at www.parkathletics.tv.
After the Pirates (16-2) take on the Wildcats (9-13), it's off to the St. Louis area for a pair of conference matches, beginning Friday night at St. Louis College of Pharmacy (4-11, 0-5 AMC), while Saturday's match is an afternoon tilt at Lindenwood University—Belleville (12-10, 4-1 AMC).
- Thursday vs. Baker, 7 p.m. | Breckon Sports Center | Watch Live Video & Stats | Live Stats
- Friday at STLCOP, 7 p.m. | St. Louis, Mo. | Watch Live Video & Stats | Live Stats
- Saturday at LU-Belleville, 4 p.m. | Belleville, Ill. | Watch Live Video & Stats | Live Stats
PIRATES AMONG NAIA'S BEST, STATISTICALLY
If the numbers don't lie, Park University is statistically one of the NAIA's best volleyball teams, especially on offense, where the Pirates carry the NAIA's fourth-best team hitting percentage at .279, aided by setter Danna Gomes, who averages 10.92 assists per set, eighth-best among NAIA setters.
Gomes has also helped Nada Meawad to one of the best freshman starts in recent memory, in the NAIA, averaging 4.51 kills per set, which is third-best among NAIA attackers, nationally. She's also got 36 aces, 16th-most in the NAIA, as Park has 123 aces, in all, which also registers in the NAIA top 50.
Meawad and Gomes also lead the American Midwest Conference in kills per set and assists per set, respectively.
While Park's defensive numbers don't rank like the team's offensive stats, the Pirates are a stout defense, led by Celina Monteiro's 4.8 digs per set and 45 blocks from Maren Mair, trailed closely by Aneisha Ford, who had 38 blocks on the year.
BAKER BREAKING OUT OF A SLUMP ENTERING THURSDAY'S MATCH
Baker University picked up a Sept. 29 win at Gracleand, and winning two of their last four, the Wildcats were able to put an end to a five-match winning streak, all in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, where Baker is 2-8.
Key performer… Olivia Brees is one of the NAIA's best at the net, where she has 93 blocks, the fourth-best blocking total in NAIA volleyball. As a team, Baker is seventh, nationally at the net, with 108 team blocks. Ashley Sparks also ranks in the NAIA, with the ninth-most total kills at 270.
BACK IN TO CONFERENCE PLAY AGAINST STRUGGLING EUTS
St. Louis College of Pharmacy got a pair of wins on Sept. 30 to put an end to a long six-match winning streak, and at 4-11, the Euts lost their first five matches of the year before beating Blackburn on Sept. 14. STLCOP is 0-5 in the AMC, including last week's two losses to Harris-Stowe and Missouri Baptist.
Key performer… Kacie Kinnikin leads the Eutectics from the setting position, where she averages 7.4 assists per set, and at the service line, she's also STLCOP's leader with 18 service aces on the season.
LOOKING TO AVOID AN UPSET AT LINDENWOOD-BELLEVILLE
The Lynx Arena has already proved to be a difficult place to play in 2017, as Lindenwood-Belleville registered one of the NAIA's biggest upsets, this season, knocking off Columbia College in four sets on Sept. 18. That win helped Lindenwood get to 4-1, at this point in the conference season, and the win over the Cougars is part of an eight-match stretch with a 6-2 record for Lindenwood-Belleville.
Key performer… Kourtney Knox is part of an elite group of setters in the AMC, totaling 770 assists on the season, the 15th-best assist total in NAIA volleyball. She's helped Lauren English to a .333 hitting percentage, which is also in the NAIA top 25, statistically.
NAIA VOLLEYBALL COACHES' TOP 25 POLL
The Pirates checked in at No. 5 in the NAIA, this week. The full poll (below) is described by the NAIA at http://www.naia.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27900&ATCLID=211671169.
SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)
Martin Methodist (Tenn.) (18)
Spring Arbor (Mich.)
University of Northwestern Ohio
William Carey (Miss.)
The Master's (Calif.)
Central Methodist (Mo.)
Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Science & Arts (Okla.)
John Brown (Ark.)
Dropped from Top 25: No. 25 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.).
Others Receiving Votes: Trinity Christian (Ill.) 82; Baker (Kan.) 37; Jamestown (N.D.) 36; Indiana Wesleyan 36; St. Ambrose (Iowa) 32; Antelope Valley (Calif.) 22; Bethel (Tenn.) 17; St. Thomas (Texas) 13; Eastern Oregon 10; LSU Alexandria 9; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 4; St. Thomas (Fla.) 3; Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 3.
Next week is a big week for the Pirates, who play three matches in Columbia, all out of conference, beginning Oct. 13 against The Master's. Oct. 14 will be a battle of No. 5 and No. 6, as the Pirates take on sixth-ranked Westmont, while also meeting Central Methodist on Oct. 14.