Sept. 14, 2017
RUSTON, La. - After snagging wins in three of its last five matches, the Louisiana Tech women's volleyball team (4-6) will head to St. Louis, Missouri, this weekend, to face off against the host Billikens (1-9), DePaul (3-6) and Little Rock (3-6) in Tech's final non-conference tournament of the season.
Tech, who currently owns the seventh-best winning percentage among Conference USA teams (.400), most recently earned a straight-set victory over Jackson State on Tuesday. Senior Brooke Short made a little history in Tech's sweep. The setter notched her 20th assist of the evening in the third set, pushing her to 2,000 helpers for her career. Short finished the evening with 29 assists, while becoming the seventh player in Tech history to reach the 2,000-assist plateau. This season, Short has produced 268 assists, good for 7.66 per set.
Prior to the 2017 season, expectations were high for senior Marta Monne to carry the squad in most offensive categories. However, as impressive as Monne has been (her 79 kills and 101 digs are both second-best on the team), underclassmen Gina Cortesi, Madeline Davis, Carter Mirich and Marie-Helene Verlinden have stepped up in a big way to help shoulder the offensive load.
Cortesi continues to lead the team in kills (110) and ranks second in blocks (29) while Davis' defense (team-best 42 blocks) has limited Tech's opponents to a .175 hitting percentage (fourth-lowest mark in C-USA). Mirich has stepped up and seen time in 32 of Tech's 38 sets in 2017, racking up 55 kills and 61 digs in that time. Verlinden has been a steady presence at the net (28 blocks) and behind the service line - her nine service aces are second-most on the squad.
The Lady Techsters will open up the Billiken Invitational against Little Rock on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Trojans, who were picked to finish fourth in the Sun Belt's West Division, dropped two of three at the SFA Invitational last weekend.
A pair of upperclassmen in junior middle blocker Veronica Marin (87 kills) and senior outside hitter Marina Avram (81 kills) have paced the Little Rock offense so far this season. Tech is 11-16 all-time against the Trojans, winning the last matchup by a 3-0 final back in 2010.
Saturday features a pair of contests for the Lady Techsters, beginning at 10 a.m. with a match against DePaul. The Blue Demons own a 3-6 record coming into this weekend, and most recently swept Loyola on Tuesday night.
DePaul is led by Brittany Maxwell (108 kills) and a pair of setters in Kelsey Horvath (133 assists) and Katie Dolan (161 assists). Tech has only faced DePaul once in its history, earning a 3-2 win back in 2003.
Tech will wrap up the round-robin style tournament on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the host Billikens who are 1-9 so far this season. Saint Louis picked up its first win of the season against Western Illinois on Tuesday, but owns an 0-3 record at home this year. Tech has faced the Billikens only once before, falling 3-1 in 1999.
Live stats for all matches this weekend can be found at slu.statbroadcast.com. Remember to follow @LATechVB on Twitter for all breaking news and updates on the Lady Techsters.