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SUU volleyball team faces tough road tests

Published October 5, 2011 3:41 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Southern Utah University women's volleyball will wrap up its first leg of Summit League play when the Thunderbirds travel to North Dakota State and South Dakota State this weekend for two difficult road tests.

The T-Birds will enter the weekend with an overall record of 4-13, including a conference mark of 2-5.

"It is important that we do well this weekend as we finish the first half of the conference season," head coach Debby Baker said of the games. "A couple of wins this weekend will put us right back on track for a chance at the conference tournament."

Victory will be a tall order on Friday night as the Thunderbirds have yet to beat North Dakota State at home or on the road. SUU pushed the Bison to five sets in Cedar City last season, controlling the first and fourth sets with 25-14 and 25-13 victories. The game included a strong balance of offense and defense with three players finishing with double-digit kills and four players finishing with double-digit digs for the T-Birds.

Southern Utah picked up its first victory over South Dakota State in 2010 with a five-set victory in Brookings. Analaine Pelaez-Mailoto led the team with 24 kills in the game as the Thunderbirds captured the first two sets and then finished out the win with a 16-14 win in the fifth set. The 2011 series will feature coaching colleagues as SUU head coach Debby Baker and SDSU head coach Phil McDaniel worked together at New Mexico State.

The Thunderbirds' offense continues to be paced by Pelaez-Mailoto with 279 kills and an average of 4.04 per set which ranks second in the Summit League. Defensively, Pelaez-Mailoto also leads the team in digs with 201, but freshman Davia Lee leads the team in digs per set with 3.68 since her start during the conference season.

Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday with live stats anticipated to be available for both matches online at http://www.suutbirds.com.