TAMPA, Fla. – The University of Tampa climbs the AVCA Division II coaches poll two spots to No. 6, as announced by the association office, Monday.
After going another week undefeated in Sunshine State Conference competition, this is the highest rank for the Spartans since the week 11 poll of the 2015 season. The Spartans' 20-1 start is the best since the 2014 season. The 2014 team also kicked off the year with a 20-1 start and went on to finish 34-1 concluding the season as national champions. 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 (.280), assists (13.58 per set), and kills (14.38 per set). The offensive prowess is a lot in part to the sophomore duo, Sorrel Houghton and Katie McKiel, who are stride for stride with one another so far this season. Houghton has 280 kills and a .274 kill percentage and McKiel has 279 kills and a .253 kill percentage. The two are third and fourth 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 .412 kill percentage. Defensively this season, Nicole Dominguez has found a new role on the court as libero. The Apopka, Florida native currently sits with 324 digs averaging 4.15 per set and is 8th in the SSC. Sammy Mueller quarterbacks the Spartans at the setting position. For her junior campaign, she has recorded 772 assists, averaging 9.90 per set, 5th in the SSC. The Gainesville, Florida native has stated 12 double-doubles on the season with 226 digs. Finally, the glue to Tampa's roster this season has been sophomore Melissa Elias. Elias recently became the first Spartan in program history to earn a triple-double, in addition to having seven other double-doubles this season.
Most recently, the Spartans swept the Florida Tech Panthers 3-0. Tampa then defeated the Eckerd College Tritons 3-1 to close out the week.
Northern State now holds the No. 1 spot, followed by Nebraska-Kearney at No. 2. Reigning national champions, Concordia-St. Paul climbs one spot to No. 3, while Western Washington and Cal State San Bernardino round out the top five respectively.
UT will play three matches this weekend in Orlando, Florida at the South Region Crossover event. On Friday, the Spartans will face the Valdosta State Blazers at 4:45 p.m. Then on Saturday, Tampa will compete against the Lee University Flames and the No. 12 University of West Florida Argonauts at 12:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. respectively.
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