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ARLINGTON, Texas -- After earning the No. 6 seed in the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Championships, UTA volleyball will kick off its tournament run with a matchup vs. No. 7 seeded Appalachian State, slated for 5 p.m. CT on Thursday on the campus of Arkansas State. All Sun Belt Conference Championship games will be covered live on ESPN3.
UTA (13-16, 7-9 Sun Belt) finished the regular season with the six seed in the Sun Belt Conference Championships. The Mavs will face Appalachian State (11-19, 6-10 Sun Belt) to earn the right to advance to meet Louisiana (20-10, 13-3 SBC) on Friday.
The Mavs have totaled a .199 hitting percentage as a team in 2017, owning 12.5 kills, 11.5 assists and 14.7 digs per set. Individually, senior outside hitter Qiana Canete set the program record for career kills and ranks third in the conference with 3.60 kills per set, adding 3.09 digs per set. Zhanelle Geathers, Allie Deese and Ashlynn Ford round out the four-member senior class for the Mavs in 2017, with Geathers ranking fourth in the league in kills per set (3.39). Sophomore Kylie Jedlicka has had a strong season, totaling 2.25 kills and 2.42 digs per set, with sophomore Madison McConnell leading the team with a .294 hitting percentage. Freshman Tessa Harfield leads the team with 0.62 blocks per set, with setters Kailyn Gilbreath (9.00) and Haley Higgins (7.55) leading the team in assists. Liberos Madelyn St. Germain (3.48), Madison Smith (0.99) and Libbie Vickers (3.99) have led the team in digs per set.
UTA owns a three-set win over Appalachian State on Oct. 1 in Boone, N.C., with the Mavs earning a 25-19 and a pair of 25-18 wins in the match. The Mavs lead the series with App. State, 4-3 and are 1-0 in the lone meeting in the conference tournament (2014 at Texas State). This marks UTA's 12th consecutive conference tournament, with UTA advancing to five straight Sun Belt Conference Championships. The Mavs are seeking their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.
The Mountaineers enter the postseason having won three of their last five matches, including road wins at Georgia Southern and Georgia State. Last weekend, App. State suffered a three-set loss at South Alabama and a five-set setback at Troy. Appalachian State has hit for a .177 percentage as a team, averaging 12.5 kills, 11.8 assists and 15.6 digs per set. Courtney Sullivan (2.34) and Kara Spicer (2.85) pace the team in kills per set, with Ashlyn Brown (10.14) leading in assists and Olivia Loeffler (3.66) leading the club in digs per set.
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