TAMPA, Fla. – After remaining undefeated in the Sunshine State Conference with a perfect 6-0 record, the University of Tampa volleyball team tabbed the No. 8 spot in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II coaches poll as announced by the association office, Monday.
The Spartans' 13-1 start is the best since the 2014 season. The 2014 team also kicked off the year with a 13-1 start and went on to finish 34-1 concluding the season as national champions. Tampa receives a top 10 rank for the first time since the preseason poll of 2016 where the team was tabbed No. 7. The Spartans started this season unranked after falling out of the poll for the first time in 21 years in week 1 of the 2017 season.
Tampa leads the SSC in hitting percentage (.289), assists (13.63 per set), and kills (14.56 per set). The offensive prowess is a lot in part to the sophomore duo, Katie McKiel, and Sorrel Houghton, who are stride for stride with one another so far this season. McKiel has 183 kills and a .267 kill percentage and Houghton has 180 kills and a .267 kill percentage. The two are third and fifth respectively in the SSC in kills. Junior middle blocker Taylor Fosler has also been crucial to the Spartans success and is currently first in the conference with a .425 kill percentage. Defensively this season, Nicole Dominguez has found a new role on the court as libero. The Apopka, Florida native currently sits with 200 digs averaging 2.94 per set and is 9th in the SSC. Sammy Mueller quarterbacks the Spartans at the setting position. For her junior campaign, she has recorded 544 assists, averaging 10.46 per set, 5th in the SSC. The Gainesville, Florida native has stated eight double-doubles on the season with 148 digs.
Most recently, the Spartans upset the No. 3 ranked Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish, sweeping them by set scores of 25-21, 25-22, and 26-24. The team then went on to defeat the Nova Southeastern Sharks, also in three, by scores of 25-19, 25-19, and 25-17. Due to their outstanding performances, the Spartans earned all three conference players of the week awards. Taylor Fosler received the offensive player of the week, Nicole Dominguez took home defensive player of the week, and Sammy Mueller earned setter of the week.
Reigning national champions, Concordia-St. Paul snags the No. 1 spot, followed by Cal State San Bernardino who takes No. 2. To round out the top five, Northern State takes No. 3, Nebraska-Kearney falls to the No. 4 position, and Minnesota Duluth climbs to No. 5.
Tampa will continue its season with another pair of road matches. First, the team will travel to compete against the Lynn University Fighting Knights on Friday, before taking on the Barry Buccaneers on Saturday. The games are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. respectively.
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