Sun Belt Conference Volleyball news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

For the third time this season, FIU's Jovana Bjelica was named the Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Player of the Week, and North Texas' Sarah Willey earned her first Defensive Player of the Week honor of the year, as announced by the conference office on Monday.

Junior Jovana Bjelica had a stellar offensive weekend for FIU as the Panthers defeated Arkansas State, 3-2, and UALR, 3-0, in Miami. Bjelica recorded a career-high 31 kills against ASU on Friday to mark the first 30-kill outing by an FIU player since 2008. That mark ranks tied for third on the rally-scoring era (2001-present) single-match charts and falls just two kills short of tying the rally-scoring era five-set match record total of 33. Bjelica went on to post 20 kills versus UALR on Sunday to mark her 17th double-digit kill outing in 20 matches played on the year. The outside hitter registered 51 kills against just 11 errors in 97 total attempts across eight sets of action for the weekend, good for a hitting percentage of .412 and a kills-per-set mark of 6.38. A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Bjelica was also active on the defensive side of the net over the weekend, posting 13 digs and eight blocks, including her second solo stop of the season.

At 7.43 digs per set, Sarah Willey posted the best two-match digs per set average by a Sun Belt player this year in leading North Texas to wins at South Alabama and Troy. The senior tallied 29 digs in four sets at Troy – the most by an SBC player in four sets this year – and also racked up 23 digs in a sweep of South Alabama for the third most three-set digs in the league in 2011. Overall, Willey posted 52 total digs and helped keep the Mean Green's opponents to a .181 attack percentage over the weekend. She also tallied two aces and three assists.


· After enduring a seven-match losing streak earlier this season, Middle Tennessee has now won 11 consecutive matches, the seventh double digit winning streak the Blue and White have compiled since the start of the 2007 season.

· Lady Topper head coach Travis Hudson will be looking for his 400th career win on Friday against the Pioneers. Over the last 17 seasons, Hudson has compiled a record of 399-175, good for a .695 winning percentage. He is the winningest coach in WKU history and leads all active Sun Belt coaches in league wins with 176.

· Troy's 3-1 win over Denver on Friday pushed the Trojans to 6-0 at Sartain Hall for the first time in school history. However, the perfect home record came to an end the following day as North Texas dropped the Trojans in four sets.

· With the Mean Green in desperate need of wins to stay in the race for the SBC Tournament, Shelley Morton posted a spectacular weekend – 4.57 kills & 4.0 digs per set – in leading North Texas to a pair of conference road victories. The senior posted 13 kills and 11 digs in a three-set win over South Alabama, and followed it with 19 kills and 17 digs in a four-set win at Troy. Morton has reached double-figure kills in every Sun Belt match this year, and has double-doubles in eight of the 11 matches – including the last four. She also landed a pair of aces and hit .231 for the weekend.

· Louisiana-Lafayette's Taylor Meade and Arkansas State's Allison Kearney lead the Sun Belt in service aces this season with 41 a piece. Both players need just 22 more to enter the Sun Belt rally-scoring era top 5 for service aces in a season.

· Oyinlola Oladinni now has 927 kills, with 73 more, she will become just the 12th member of the Middle Tennessee 1,000 kill club. She would also become the second Blue Raider this season to join a career club by joining Brynne Henderson, who joined the 1,000 dig club earlier this month in a win over Marquette.

· Two FIU freshmen had career performances this weekend. Silvia Carli led the FIU blocking corps with 15 blocks and posted a career-high and team-leading eight blocks versus ASU, including her first-career solo stop, while also setting a career best in kills (6). Versus UALR, the middle blocker registered a squad-best seven blocks and again bested her career high in kills (7), hitting at a clip of .400 for the match to mark yet another career best. Jessica Egan nearly doubled her previous career high of 33 assists with 60 assists in five sets of play against ASU, as that mark ranks third on the FIU rally-scoring era single-match charts. Egan went on to post 40 assists in three sets of action versus UALR.

· ULM's Zuzana Markova continued her run of triple-doubles for the season after collecting 10 kills, 11 assists and 11 digs against Western Kentucky for her 11th of the season. Markova's 16 kills led ULM for the week averaging 2.67 per set.