SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo volleyball team heads to West Palm Beach, Fla., this week to partake in the 2016 NCAA South Regional, hosted by Palm Beach Atlantic. The Lions, who are the No. 2 seed in the field, will take on the No. 7 seed and Sunshine State Conference foe Florida Southern on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
DAILY TICKET INFORMATION Adults - $8
Students/Seniors - $5
Children (8 and younger) - Free
Against the field… Saint Leo has a 5-5 record against the South Region field this season. Against No. 1 PBA, the Lions are 0-2, falling 3-0 at home, and closing out the season with a 3-1 loss at Palm Beach Atlantic. For the first time, Saint Leo finished the regular season with a 2-0 record against No. 2 Tampa, and against No. 6 Lynn and No. 7 Florida Southern, the Lions split the season. Against the two Gulf South Conference opponents, the Lions are 1-1 after falling to No. 4 West Florida, 3-0, at the South Region Crossover, and taking a 3-2 win over No. 5 North Alabama at the SRC. The Lions did not play the No. 8 seed, Kentucky State, this season.
On the Season…
This season, the Lions are 20-11 overall, surpassing the 20-win mark for the second-straight season, and third of the last four. The Lions also finished with a 12-4 Sunshine State Conference record, helping them claim their first out-right conference title in program history. However, before the Lions could win the title, they needed another historical moment. Both Saint Leo and Tampa tied at 12-4 in conference play, but since the Lions swept the Spartans on the season for the first time in program history, the Lions earned the title out-right.
Changes behind Coach Cibrone… Since Sam Cibrone was named head coach, prior to the 2004 season, the Saint Leo Lions have made appearances in seven NCAA Tournaments (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015). Prior to Cibrone's tenure? Zero. Cibrone entered 2016 with a 235-152, 96-92 SSC record, and now sits as 255-163, 108-96 record prior to the NCAA Tournament. He has also led the Lions to their only two SSC titles (2009 & 2016), and was named SSC Coach of the Year three times (2009, 2015, 2016).
Terrific Townsend… Jamee Townsend, a 5-foot-9 libero from Plant City, Fla., has been vital to the Lions this season. She leads the team in digs, and has moved her way into the Saint Leo record books. She was named First Team All-South Region by both the AVCA and the D2CCA and earned 2016 First Team All-SSC honors, and was the only libero to make the team. She averaged 5.36 digs per set in the regular season, and finished the regular season with 5.42 digs per set in conference-only play. She has 1375 career digs, and sits third all-time in Saint Leo program history. She earned a 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District honor. She earned the SSC Defensive Player of the Week three time in 2016. This season she has tallied 13 performances with 20 or more digs, and five performances over 30, including scooping up a career-high 36 digs twice this year.
Zesty Lemon… Senior Hope Lemon has been the Lions main point scorer this season, averaging 3.9 points per set, a full point more than the next Lion. She averages 3.31 kills per set, but she sneaks additional points off her serve. The outside rips a souring top spin serve that pains most serve receives as she has totaled 45 aces this season. Lemon has had an all-around successful season, earning an All-Tournament honors at the NSU Shark Invitational to start the season, and has been named to the All-SSC First Team, and earned AVCA All-South Region honors as well.
This season the Lions have seen two setters split action in junior Maddy Powell and freshman Anna Garrett. Garrett started the season, earning All-Tournament honors at the NSU Shark Invitational after leading the Lions to a 4-0 record to start the season. She has seen action in 26 matches and 70 sets while averaging 9.30 assists per set. Powell, who started the season sidelined by an injury, returned to the line-up against Tampa on Sept. 17. Powell guided the Lions to a 3-1 win over the Spartans, dishing out 42 assists adding eight digs and six kills. On the season, she has averaged 8.74 assists per set after playing in 21 matches and 65 sets. As a lefty, Powell has also totaled 84 kills for a 1.29 average.
Senior Jamee Townsend was the first Lion to win a Sunshine State Player of the Week honor this season when she was named Defensive Player of the Week for matches in the opening weekend of action. Prior to that honor, Saint Leo volleyball had not earned an SSC honor since Oct. 13, 2014. Following her first honor, Townsend would go on to win two more for a program-best three by an individual in a single season. Following the final week of the regular season, the Lions saw junior Britt Sederholm record the Offensive Player of the Week honor. This is Sederholm's first weekly award for her career, and it is the first offensive award for the Lions since the 2013 season.