LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Volleyball team wraps up its home schedule for fall 2023 and celebrates Senior Weekend, hosting App State at E.K. Long Gym in a two-match Sun Belt Conference series from Friday-Saturday, November 10-11.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (16-12, 7-7 Sun Belt) seek to continue building momentum in advance of next week’s SBC Tournament in Foley, Alabama. Winners of four of the last five matches, UL is playing its best volleyball lately with the offense averaging 15 kills per set and the defense averaging 19-plus digs per set during the stretch.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Volleyball head coach Kristi Gray announced on Thursday (Nov. 9, 2023) the signing of four student-athletes, as the national signing period for the 2024-25 academic year is now officially underway.
First serve in UL-APP series is set for 6:00 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 10) and 12:00 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 11). Live coverage is available on ESPN+ and CajunStats.com.
The Ragin’ Cajuns will hold their Senior Day ceremony on Saturday after the conclusion of the match, honoring the team’s senior class of Kara Barnes, Celeste Darling, Emery Judkins and Mya Wilson.
Admission to UL Volleyball home matches is free and open to the public. Parking, free of charge, is available in the parking lots surrounding E.K. Long Gym.
Friday’s match is dubbed Rally Program Night in recognition of local area businesses that support the Ragin’ Cajuns. A raffle will be conducted for sideline passes to the third quarter of the Nov. 25 ULM football game.
Last week in Hattiesburg, the Cajuns solidified their seed for the SBC Tournament, picking the No. 4 slot from the West Division, and set a new benchmark for wins in the Kristi Gray era with a sweep of Southern Miss on Friday (Nov. 3). The USM sweep also locked up an overall winning record for the third straight season under Gray’s leadership.
The Ragin’ Cajuns late-season surge has been driven by the setter-libero combination of Siena DeCambra and Mio Yamamoto. DeCambra has passed out 40-plus assists in four of the last five outings and enters the weekend as the SBC’s leader in total assists and one of only 18 players nationwide with 1,000-plus. Yamamoto has averaged four-plus digs per set six consecutive SBC series, rising to five-plus per set the past two weeks, and leads the SBC in total digs in conference matches (264).
Balance has been the mainstay for Louisiana’s success this season. Five different players have posted over 150 kills, led by the duo of Shyia Richardson (343 kills) and Celeste Darling (255 kills) at outside and opposite hitter, and four different players have collected at least 200 digs, led by Yamamoto (425 digs) and defensive specialist Kennedy Gustafson (274 digs).
App State (13-12, 4-10 Sun Belt) is making its first visit to E.K. Long Gym since 2019. The Cajuns seek to break the Mountaineers streak of consecutive regular season matches won in the series, currently five straight dating back to 2018.
The Mountaineers are in their second season with head coach Sarah Rumely Noble. The player to watch for App State is Maya Winterhoff – the SBC leader in hitting percentage, ranked 52nd nationally at .372, and also the league leader in total blocks (111).
App State: App State leads, 8-6 | Last match: W, 3-2 on 11/17/2022 in Foley, Ala.
In Lafayette: Tied, 2-2
Sun Belt Matches: App State leads, 8-3
Current Streak: UL +1
- Louisiana concludes regular season play and its home schedule for fall 2023 hosting App State at E.K. Long Gym from Friday-Saturday, November 10-11.
- UL is celebrating Senior Weekend during the series with the Mountaineers.
- The 2023 senior class playing their final matches at E.K. Long includes: Kara Barnes, Celeste Darling, Emery Judkins and Mya Wilson.
- The Cajuns enter the stretch run playing their best offensively, having won four of their last five matches by averaging 15 kills per set during the stretch.
- Last Friday’s win at Southern Miss locked up the No. 4 seed out of the SBC West for Louisiana.
- App State visits E.K. Long for the first time since 2019 and only the fifth and sixth time in the series.
- UL aims to halt a five-match regular season losing skid to the Mountaineers that dates back to 2018.
- Led by Mio Yamamoto (6.0 digs/set), UL has averaged 19-plus digs per set the last two weekends.
- Cami Hicks needs one block for a second consecutive 100-blocks season.
- Shyia Richardson, sitting at 343 kills, has picked up the third consecutive 200-plus kills season of her collegiate career, and her first 300-plus campaign.
- Shyia Richardson is the first to reach 300 kills since assistant coach Kelsey Bennett in 2021 (374).
- Setter Siena DeCambra currently ranks Top 15 nationally with 1,020 assists – one of only 18 players nationwide to tally 1,000 assists entering the week.
- Siena DeCambra tallied her 2,000th overall assist with UL during the South Alabama series (Oct. 13-14). She enters the App State series possessing the first 1,000-assists season of her collegiate career.
- Kara Barnes hit .310-plus the previous three seasons, tallying 150-plus kills each time. She’s currently hitting .330 and has 183 kills.
- Celeste Darling has set a new personal single-season mark in total kills, her current total of 255 surpassing the previous-best 207 from last season.
- Cami Hicks (347) and Kara Barnes (317) rank No. 3 and 4, respectively, in UL’s rally scoring era charts for career blocks. Hicks has an additional season to chase Kim Rodgers’ record 396 blocks.
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
Louisiana travels to Foley, Alabama to compete in the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Tournament from Thursday-Sunday, November 16-19 at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex.
The Ragin’ Cajuns official seed for the event, as well as the time for the squad’s opening match on Thursday, will be announced on Saturday, Nov. 11 following the conclusion of regular season play.
The Sun Belt’s postseason event is back in Foley for the fourth straight season. All 14 teams are competing for the league’s automatic bid with every match broadcast live via ESPN+.