UE Volleyball opens 2023 season on Friday morning


Aces travel to Cape Girardeau, Mo.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Record-breaking team and individual accomplishments in the fall of 2022 have the University of Evansville volleyball team primed to make another run in 2023.  The Purple Aces face a tough test out of the gate as the regular season opens this weekend with a trip to the SEMO Invitational.  Friday’s opener pits UE against the Redhawks at 11 a.m. before Saturday’s match has Evansville taking on Central Michigan at 12 p.m.

Puerto Rico National Team

– UE head coach Fernando Morales continues his work as the head coach of the Puerto Rico National Team

– He will be splitting time between Evansville and Puerto Rico over the first month of the season

– In his absence, assistants Michelle Nogueras and Jonathan Vila will split head coaching roles

First to 500

– Giulia Cardona put forth one of the best seasons the Evansville program has ever seen last fall

– Completing the season with 574 kills and 1,581 attempts, Cardona set the UE single-season program record for both stats

– With an average of 4.35 kills per set, she ranked second in the league behind teammate Alondra Vazquez

– On a national scale, Cardona ranked third with 674.0 total points, fifth in attacks (1,581) and sixth in total kills (574)

– The MVC leader in service aces with 0.49 per set was 18th in the NCAA

– Cardona set her career mark with 25 kills on two occasions last season – at Southern Illinois and in the MVC Championship win over Bradley

– She was named to the All-MVC First Team and garnered league Player of the Week accolades on Sept. 26, 2022

A Season of Firsts

– As the UE program continues to establish itself in the top half of the MVC, 2022 saw the Aces take multiple steps towards that goal

– Evansville went 11-7 in conference action, marking the top win tally for the program since joining the Valley in 1994; before 2022, the 2000 squad was the only one to finish above .500 in MVC play, going 10-8

– Entering last season, UE was 0-29 in road matches at Illinois State but came through last October with a 3-0 sweep at Redbird Arena

– Between 2009 and 2018, Evansville failed to qualify for the MVC Championship; since that time, the program has made the tournament in three out of four seasons (the lone outlier was the spring of 2021)

– UE won just one MVC Tournament match between 1994 and 2021 before tripling its win total with victories over Bradley and SIU last season

MVC Preseason

– Receiving 99 votes, the Purple Aces were picked to finish 5th in the MVC Preseason Poll

– UNI, Drake, UIC and Southern Illinois were chosen in the top four positions

– Junior Giulia Cardona was voted to the Preseason All-Conference Team

Scouting the Opposition

– Preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite SEMO is the first opponent of 2023

– The Redhawks went 17-16 last season while winning 10 OVC matches

– Tara Beilsmith and Zoey Beasley were voted on the Preseason All-Conference Team

– Saturday’s opponent will be Central Michigan, who is coming off a 20-12 campaign while going 12-6 in the Mid-American Conference

– The Chippewas played in the NIVC Tournament where they fell to Xavier in the opening round

She’s Back

– Limited to just 29 sets over eight matches in 2022 due to injury, Melanie Feliciano is back for her 5th season with the program

– A member of the All-MVC First Team in 2021, Feliciano averaged 2.86 kills and 2.41 digs in limited action last fall

– She recorded at least eight kills in each of her matches last season including her top tally of 14 versus Western Carolina

– Feliciano finished the fall of 2021 with 380 kills, an average of 3.28 per set, which ranked 6th in the Valley

– With 1,169 kills in her career, Feliciano is quickly approaching Evansville’s top ten career list with Brooke Maher holding the #10 spot with 1,254 kills