ECU Lady Tigers Set to Host South Central Classic

The Tournament

For the first time in program history the East Central University volleyball team will co-host a tournament at the Kerr Activities Center. The South Central Classic will be co-hosted with arch-rival Southeastern, with both schools hosting four matches Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14. Matches start at 11 a.m. each day, with the last match scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Admission for the tournament is $5 for the day at each location.

South Central Classic Schedule at ECU

Friday, Sept. 13

11 a.m. - Northwestern vs. Maryville

1 p.m. - ECU vs. Central Oklahoma

5 p.m. - Northwestern vs. Central Oklahoma

7 p.m. - ECU vs. Maryville

Saturday, Sept. 14

11 a.m. - Northwestern vs. Mid-America Christian

1 p.m. - ECU vs. Cameron

5 p.m. - Northwestern vs. Cameron

7 p.m. - ECU vs. Mid-America Christian

The Coverage

Fans who can’t be at the game can find links to live stats and live video (if available) on Go to the volleyball schedule page.

Scouting Central Oklahoma

The Bronchos are 4-0 after their opening weekend of action at the Henderson State Classic, winning all four matches in three sets. UCO defeated Alabama-Huntsville, Cameron, Henderson State and Southern Arkansas.

The Bronchos hit .287 as a team and allowed just a .030 hitting percentage. While UCO has advantages in all categories, they had large margins in blocks (2.5/1.3) and digs (15.8/12.5).

The Bronchos have five hitters in their rotation. Juliette Smith leads the team with a .509 (33k-6e-53ta) attack percentage and 15 (4-11) blocks. Tate Hardaker is the leading defensive player with 68 digs.

Against the Bronchos

The Lady Tigers and UCO meet three times during the 2012 season, with the Bronchos earning wins in all three matches.

The top returners for ECU are Danielle Essix and Hayley Gerken. Essix tallied a .311 (19k-5e-45ta) hitting percentage, while Gerken added 12 kills and eight (1-7) blocks.

Juliette Smith led UCO against the Lady Tigers in 2012, with a .415 (20k-3e-41ta) hitting percentage and 26 (6-20) blocks.

The Series

Friday’s meeting will be the 11th in the all-time series with UCO, dating back to the 2008 season. The Bronchos currently own an 8-2 advantage in the series, but the series is tied a two each when played at the Kerr Activities Center.

Scouting Maryville

The Saints are 2-3 after falling to Missouri Baptist Tuesday. Maryville has struggled a little getting their offense going, hitting just .150 to a .230 mark by the opposition. The rest of the categories are close, with the Saints holding a 1.6 to 1.0 lead in blocks.

Maryville has four hitters with over 100 attempts this season, with Hana Michael and Mikaela Lahm leading that group with .184 hitting percentages. Michael adds 68 digs, while Lahm has a team-best 15 (6-9) blocks. Demi Maniaci has the highest individual hitting percentage at .212 (35k-17e-85ta) and she adds 12 (1-11) blocks.

The Series

The meetings with the Saints will be the first in program history.

Scouting Cameron

The Aggies are 2-2 after opening the season at the Henderson State Classic. Cameron is close to its opponents in all the statistical categories except in blocks where they trail 1.5 to 2.5.

The Aggies have two players with over 100 attempts this season in Kelle Carver and Grace Newkirk. Carver has a .250 (51k-24e-108ta) hitting percentage and eight blocks, while Newkirk is hitting .157 (32k-16e-102ta), with two service aces and 13 digs.

Against the Aggies

The last meeting with Cameron was in the 2010 season, resulting in a 1-3 loss for the Lady Tigers. Sarah Nelson and Noelle Cope both had strong performances against the Aggies. Nelson tallied three kills and seven (1-6) blocks, while Cope added 15 kills. Cameron has no returners from the last time they faced ECU.

The Series

It will be just the fourth meeting in the all-time series with the Aggies, with Cameron hold a 1-2 overall advantage and a 0-2 mark when playing in Ada.

Scouting Mid-America Christian

The Evangels are 1-4 on the season and have struggled with offensive consistency. MACU has a .089 team hitting percentage and their opponents are hitting at a .268 mark. The have a disadvantage in all the categories on the box score, except blocks where it is a close 1.7 to 1.6.

Kacee Montgomery leads the team with a .257 (29k-12e-105ta) hitting percentage, 40 digs and 12 (8-4) blocks.

Against the Evangels

MACU and ECU meet last in 2012, with the Evangels earning a 3-2 win.

Danielle Essix and Noelle Cope are the top returners from that series. Essix hit .548 (18k-1e-31ta) and added 14 digs, while Cope hit .714 (17k-2e-21ta).

Danielle Betts is the top returner for the Evangels, with a .375 (3k-0e-8ta) hitting percentage.

The Series

Saturday’s meeting is just the third in the series, with both teams earning a win on their home courts over the past two seasons.

Blocking Party

The Lady Tigers are already on pace to have one of the best blocking seasons after their opening two matches of the season. The most blocks in a season by ECU is 245.0 from the 2011 season, which averaged out to 1.93 blocks per set. The Lady Tigers already have 16 blocks, or 1.78 per set.

Tracking the Record Books

While the ECU volleyball program has only been around since 2008, there are several members of the 2013 squad that are at the top or close to the top of several career record categories.

Taylor Brown - 4th Assists (685)

Noelle Cope - 1st Kills (834)

- 1st Attempts (2,441)

- 2nd Points (970.0)

- 4th Block Assists (104)

- 5th Sets Played (304)

- 5th Matches Played (86)

Danielle Essix - 3rd Attempts (2,186)

- 3rd Matches Played (94)

- 4th Kills (680)

- 4th Points (796.0)

- 4th Sets Played (318)

- 5th Digs (635)

Sarah Nelson - 2nd Total Blocks (217)

- 2nd Block Assists (187)

- 3rd Block Solos (30)

Jessica Wilkinson - 3rd Assists (825)

Picked to Finish Sixth

The Lady Tigers were picked to finish sixth in the GAC Pre-Season Coaches Poll. ECU earned 56 points in the poll, with Harding earning the top spot with 97 points and seven first-place votes. Arkansas Tech was second (93 points/four first-place votes), Southwestern third (78), Southern Nazarene fourth (69), Southern Arkansas fifth (65), Ouachita Baptist seventh (49), Southeastern eighth (35), Arkansas-Monticello ninth (31), and Henderson State and Northwestern tied for 10th (16).

Returning Depth

The Lady Tiger return five of seven starters and have seven seniors on the 2013 roster. That experience means ECU will have depth at every position. The Lady Tigers have three returners at the outside hitter position in sophomore Sarah Simpson and senior starters Danielle Essix and Noelle Cope. Senior Sarah Nelson and sophomore Hayley Gerken both return as middle blockers and will be challenged by junior-college transfer Ashley Williams. The setter position will be filled by senior Jessica Wilkinson and red-shirt freshman Madison Seiler, while senior Taylor Brown moved from setter to Libero after the completion of the 2012 season.

Up Next

The Lady Tigers will remain at home for a match against St. Gregory’s, Tuesday, Sept. 17 before playing two matches, Saturday, Sept. 21 against Wayland Baptist and at Oklahoma City.

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