Volleyball Wins Season Opener
Aug. 29, 2003
JONESBORO, ARK . -- - Led by 21 kills and 22.5 points from junior Tiara Gilkey, the University of Memphis volleyball team (1-0) improved to 6-2 in season openers under Head Coach Carrie Yerty with a 3-1 win over the University of Arkansas - Little Rock in the opening round of the Arkansas State Classic, Friday morning.
The match was tight from the start with Memphis trailing early before finally taking their first lead of the game off a Heather Watts' service ace that pushed Memphis ahead 20-19. The Tigers had outhit the Trojans .333 to .075 in the opening game. A second Watts' short serve pushed Memphis up 21-19 and a UALR attack banged off the antenna to push Memphis up 22-19. UALR tried to pull back getting to 22 points before one of freshman middle's 11 kills drew a Trojan blocker into the net for game point, 30-22.
Memphis held momentum through the second game, again coming back from three points down to take a lead that UALR would pull close, but not surpass. One of senior Shella Neba's seven kills closed the see-saw match, 31-29.
But UALR seized control of the emotion of game three, and a flat-footed Tiger team was pushed into reacting to UALR's middle and quick-set dominated offense. The Tiger defense got behind on their reads on the court and UALR took advantage, unleashing Ivana Vracar from the back row. UALR won game three, 30-22, after wiping an attack off a Tiger block that hit the antenna coming back into play.
But with instructions to get fired up, the Tigers came back out in the fourth game and out-hit UALR .396 to .333. While both offenses were rolling, the Tiger blocking game stepped up, posting five of its total six team blocks in the final game. A Gilkey kill gave Memphis its first win of the season, 30-24.
Sophomore Nancy Nellans downed 16 kills with seven digs in the win, while freshman Melissa Nance hit double-digit kills in her first collegiate outing with 11. Junior setter Heather Watts led the team with 59 assists and 23 digs. Gilkey also had double-digit digs with 14, while senior Brittany Barnett and freshman Christen Clayton each had 11 digs in the win.
UALR was led by middle hitter Ivana Vracar with 23 kills. Larisa Durmisevic added 19 kills, including eight in the opening game. The Trojans split setting duties between Iva Adzic and Maialla Hurga, with Hurga leading the duo with 29 assists. Kristin Etter led UALR with 15 digs, while Randi Salis added 14.
Memphis will face Eastern Kentucky in a 3 p.m. game to wrap up their first day of the tournament.