Digging Deep for Three Straight Wins

Junior Melissa Vanderhall contests a kill attempt at the net.

When the No. 9 University of Tampa (3-0) volleyball team heads to Denver this weekend for the Premier Classic, they will do so with an undefeated record. The Spartans opened the season on a high note, defeating Lock Haven in three straight sets (25-14, 25-20, 25-23) at home Thursday. UT followed up by taking down Wheeling Jesuit three sets to two and Georgian Court in straight sets on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Offensively, junior Melissa Vanderhall led UT in kills in each of the first two games, recording 12 in the opener and 18 against Wheeling Jesuit.

The reigning Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year is tied with freshman Jessica Yingling for the team lead in kills this season with 33 each.

UT has also committed fewer errors than their opponents by a 46 to 53 margin and averages 13.1 kills per set while only allowing 10.1.

Jessica Yingling

On the defensive side, sophomore Julie Howlett leads the Spartans with 28 digs this season.

Howlett picked up 11 digs in each of the first two matches, leading UT each time.

Jessica Yingling

Spartan players have a total of 120 digs compared to 99 by opposing players in addition to 19 total blocks with only 11 by the opposition.

With the victories, the Spartans have moved up to No. 9 in the AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Poll, making this week the team’s 178th consecutive week in the top 25 and 57th straight in the top 10.

Considering the team has no seniors, a 3-0 start is nothing to sneeze at.

“We have had a number of good impressions,” UT head coach Chris Catanach said.
“This is a hard working group…with time they will be very good.”

The Spartans will participate in the Colorado Premier Classic, hosted by Regis University in Denver this weekend.

They play Northwest Nazarene and No. 25 Augustine, S.D., Friday.

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