TAMPA, Fla. – The University of Tampa falls three spots to No. 7 in the latest AVCA Division II coaches poll, as announced by the association office, Monday.
The Spartans' 25-2 start is the best since the 2014 season. The 2014 team concluded 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.
This past week, the Spartans went 2-1 in Sunshine State Conference competition. They swept both the Rollins College Tars and the Nova Southeastern Sharks, before falling in four to the then No. 17 Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish. The Sailfish now sit at No. 16.
Tampa leads the SSC in hitting percentage (.275), assists (13.51 per set), and kills (14.26 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 361 kills and a .276 kill percentage and McKiel has 364 kills and a .243 kill percentage. The two are fourth 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 .410 kill percentage. Additionally, the Ocala, Florida native has 202 kills of her own. Defensively this season, Nicole Dominguez has found a new role on the court as libero. The junior out of Apopka, Florida currently sits with 428 digs averaging 4.24 per set and is 8th in the SSC. The Spartans have also valued newcomer Claudia Rivera at the DS position. Rivera has 220 digs in her rookie season, averaging 2.24 digs per set. Sammy Mueller quarterbacks the Spartans at the setting position. For her junior campaign, she has recorded 1,008 assists, averaging 9.98 per set, 4th in the SSC. The Gainesville, Florida native has stated 14 double-doubles on the season with 284 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 11 other double-doubles this season.
At the top of the poll sits Cal State San Bernardino, followed by Western Washington at No. 2. Nebraska-Kearney climbs the poll to No. 3, while Minnesota Duluth climbs four spots to No. 4. Northern State holds on to No. 5, and reigning national champions, Concordia – St. Paul fall out of the top five to No. 6.
UT has a pair of home matches this weekend. First, the Spartans welcome the 24-3 Barry Buccaneers, who currently sit third in the SSC. This game will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 2nd. Then on Saturday, Tampa will honor its four seniors with a 4:00 p.m. game against the Lynn University Fighting Knights.
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