After finishing an eight-match road trip with a 3-0 mark at the 2016 Mizuno Midwest Region Volleyball Crossover, Ashland University's volleyball team will play the next two matches at a place that might seem a bit unfamiliar – home.
The Eagles – 13-8 overall and 4-5 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – return to league play with matches against Northwood (12-7, 3-5) on Friday (Oct. 21) at 7 p.m. and vs. Hillsdale (13-6, 5-3) on Saturday (Oct. 22) at 2 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium.
Ashland's home court may seem like foreign territory, since these will be just the Eagles' fourth and fifth home matches in 2016. AU is 3-0 at home, has won six straight home matches, and 15 of its last 18 at "The Kates" going back to the 2014 season.
Friday's match against the Timberwolves will start a stretch of seven of the final nine regular-season matches at home for the Eagles.
In the GLIAC standings, Ashland is in a pack of eight teams with conference marks ranging from 5-3 to 3-5. The Eagles are 1½ games behind both the Chargers and Grand Valley State for the right to play host to a 2016 GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal on Nov. 16.
During the Crossover, senior outside hitter Casey Clark became just the second player in program history to reach 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. She has 1,014 kills and 1,318 digs going into the weekend, and needs 37 digs to tie Jennifer Bartlett for third place on Ashland's all-time list.
Coming into the resumption of GLIAC play, senior outside hitter Alli Cudworth is in the top five in the league in kills (326, first), points (373.5, first), kills per set (3.79, third), points per set (4.3, third) and service aces (30, fifth).
Eagles on hot streaks coming into the Northwood match include:
- Freshman outside hitter Shelby Woycik (double-digit kills in eight of last nine matches, hitting percentage of better than .300 in six of the last seven)
- Sophomore middle blocker Reanne Neal (17 total blocks, 40 kills, .311 hitting percentage in the last four matches)
- Junior libero Melanie Aguayo (51 digs, including career-high 27 against Bellarmine, as the Crossover)
Looking ahead, the three editions of NCAA Division II Midwest Regional rankings will be released on Nov. 2, 9 and 16. The field for the 2016 NCAA Division II tournament will be announced on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.