TAMPA, Fla. – The University of Tampa falls two spots to No. 9 in the latest AVCA Division II coaches poll, as announced by the association office, Monday.
The Spartans' 26-3 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 1-1 in Sunshine State Conference competition. UT fell to the then No. 23 Barry Buccaneers 3-1 before going on to sweep the Lynn Fighting Knights. Tampa's SSC record now sits at 16-2.
Tampa leads the SSC in hitting percentage (.270), assists (13.46 per set), and kills (14.25 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 403 kills and a .248 kill percentage and Houghton has 384 kills and a .264 kill percentage. The two are third and sixth 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 .392 kill percentage. Additionally, the Ocala, Florida native has 208 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 462 digs averaging 4.28 per set and is 8th in the SSC. The Spartans have also valued newcomer Claudia Rivera at the DS position. Rivera has 229 digs in her rookie season, averaging 2.27 digs per set. Sammy Mueller quarterbacks the Spartans at the setting position. For her junior campaign, she has recorded 1,085 assists, averaging 10.05 per set, 4thin the SSC. The Gainesville, Florida native has stated 14 double-doubles on the season with 300 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, for the second week in a row, sits Cal State San Bernardino, followed by Western Washington at No. 2 and Nebraska-Kearney at No. 3. Minnesota Duluth holds on to the No. 4 spot, while Northern State rounds out the top 5.
UT has a pair of road matches this weekend, as they look to close out conference competition. First, the Spartans will play the Saint Leo Lions on Friday, who currently sit 11-7 in the SSC. This game will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 9th. Then on Saturday, Tampa will travel to conference rival, Florida Southern, to take on the Moccasins at 4:00 p.m.
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