TAMPA, Fla. – After remaining undefeated for another week in the Sunshine State Conference with a perfect 8-0 record, the University of Tampa volleyball team remains No. 8 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II coaches poll as announced by the association office, Monday.
The Spartans' 15-1 start is the best since the 2014 season. The 2014 team also kicked off the year with a 15-1 start and went on to finish 34-1 concluding the season as national champions. Tampa receives a top 10 rank for the second week in a row. UT climbed back into the top 10 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 (.281), assists (13.53 per set), and kills (14.37 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 216 kills and a .267 kill percentage and Houghton has 205 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 second in the conference with a .390 kill percentage. Defensively this season, Nicole Dominguez has found a new role on the court as libero. The Apopka, Florida native currently sits with 242 digs averaging 4.03 per set and is 7th in the SSC. Sammy Mueller quarterbacks the Spartans at the setting position. For her junior campaign, she has recorded 611 assists, averaging 10.18 per set, 5th in the SSC. The Gainesville, Florida native has stated nine double-doubles on the season with 172 digs. Finally, the glue to Tampa's roster this season has been sophomore Melissa Elias. Elias recently became the first Spartan this season to earn a triple-double and has accumulated 82 kills, 115 assists, and 127 digs this season.
Most recently, the Spartans swept the Lynn Fighting Knights by set scores of 25-18, 25-12, and 25-20. The team then went on to defeat the Barry University Buccaneers, in five, by scores of 25-17, 20-25, 26-24, 24-26 and 15-11.
Cal State San Bernardino snags the No. 1 spot, followed by Northern State who moves up to No. 2, reigning national champions, Concordia-St. Paul, drops to No. 3, followed by Nebraska-Kearney, and Minnesota Duluth rounding out the top five respectively.
Tampa will continue its season at home this week. First, the team will compete against the Embry-Riddle tomorrow at 7 p.m., before taking on SSC rival, Florida Southern, on Friday, and ending the week with Saint Leo on Saturday.
Fans may follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter (www.twitter.com/tampaspartans), Facebook (www.facebook.com/tampaspartans), YouTube (www.youtube.com/utathletics) and Instagram (tampaspartans).
UT also offers free messaging service for text and/or email, which sends alerts and press releases for Spartan teams. To sign up, please register at www.tampaspartans.com. A free app is also available for free download through Apple and Google Play stores. Please search for Tampa Spartans Front Row.