- Inside Athletics
DETROIT -- Third year head coach Jamie Baker and the Mustangs (2-4) will enter into their first season of expanded Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) play Wednesday (Sept. 3) with a road trip to Sylvania, Ohio, to take on Lourdes University. The conference opener marks the first of 22 WHAC matches – a number that equals the Mustangs total conference tilts played over their first two seasons in the WHAC after a vote doubled the action from 11-to-22 meetings beginning this season.
The Mustangs will seek an end to their current four-match skid after the team ran up against some of the NAIA's top teams in Georgia over the weekend. The team will also look to redeem last year's losses to Lourdes – a narrow five-set thriller and a season-ending playoff setback – to open conference play this season. Junior middle hitter Alixandria Pappas (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Lakeview) will look to continue her strong start of 36 kills in six matches as the Mustangs head into Ohio for the second time this season.
The Mustang Sports Network will travel with the team once again to call the match with live audio on marygrovemustangs.com/live beginning with the pregame show at 6:50 p.m.
A LOOK AHEAD
Marygrove at Lourdes University
Date: Wednesday, September 3
Time: 7 p.m. – Live audio begins at 6:50 p.m.
Location: Tam-o-Shanter – 7060 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania, OH 43560
Coverage: Live Audio (Marygrove) | Live Stats (Lourdes)
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Marygrove and Lourdes met in the opening round of the WHAC Playoffs last year with the Gray Wolves coming away victorious by a 3-1 margin. The Gray Wolves beat the Mustangs in straight sets behind 14 kills from Angie Pagan-Perez and 31 digs from Michi Jimenez.
LOURDES HAS OUR NUMBER
The Mustangs are 0-10 all-time against the Gray Wolves dating back to the inaugural meeting on Aug. 20, 2010 – the first of five meetings during the 2010 campaign. Last season, the Mustangs came within points of nabbing their first victory over Lourdes before the Gray Wolves pulled away to win in five sets.
A LOOK THIS YEAR'S GRAY WOLVES
Jimenez and Pagan-Perez return to lead the Gray Wolves in 2014. Jimenez, a junior defensive specialist, recently eclipsed the 1,000 digs mark in her career, while Pagan-Perez has picked up where she left off last season with 34 kills and 25 digs in six matches.
Above all other stats, attack percentage has been the key through six outings for the Mustangs. The team is 2-0 when leading their opponent in attack percentage (0-4 when trailing). No other stat category has been as telling seeing as the Mustangs have won when trailing in assists, blocks, digs, and/or kills.
COACH BAKER'S REPORT
"Our opening week was positive for the team," said head coach Jamie Baker after her team went 2-4 during their week-long road trip that featured stops in Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee. "We played some extremely tough competition, which will ultimately get our team ready for the WHAC – one of the best NAIA conferences in the country. I was very pleased with our balance and depth, as well as our team chemistry during the trip. We are glad to be back in the comfort of our own homes, and we are ready to get the WHAC season started."
UP-AND-DOWN OPENING WEEK
The Mustangs started off the season 2-0 for the second time in three seasons thanks to a 3-1 decision over Cincinnati Clermont on Aug. 25 and a 3-0 victory at Tennessee Temple on Aug. 27. The week ended with four consecutive losses at the Mariner Invitational as the Mustangs ran up against tough NAIA competition to drop to 2-4 overall.
DYNAMIC DEFENSE LEADS THE WAY
Last year, the Mustangs were paced by a high-octane offense – which included top hitters Kat Hall, Sarah Suppelsa and Millie Velez. This season, the Mustangs will look to their athletic, scrappy defense to lead the way behind twins Kara and Nicole Kempinski, Alyssa Adkins, and newcomer Amber Kelly. Nicole Kempinski will shift to the back row from setter to help solidify the Mustangs' defense, while Kiara Cobbs, Ashley Murphy, and Alixandria Pappas return to carry the front row attack. Hayley Jury returns at setter to give the Mustangs a nice touch around the net.
NICE TO MEET YOU
Coach Baker and assistant coach Breann Dotstry brought in a well-rounded 2014 recruiting class after graduating a talented group of seniors last season. The Mustangs added five freshmen (Hailey Brandes, Mary Chambers, Paige Hughes, Amber Kelly, and Skylar Zeigler) and three transfers (Jessie Liinangi, Amber Staudt, and Rachel Staudt).