Volleyball Outlasted in Five by Eastern Illinois
Aug. 31, 2007
CHARLESTON, Ill. -
Eastern Illinois (3-1) 13 30 30 15 15 Memphis (1-3) 30 27 28 30 12
Shelby Burton slammed a match-high 20 kills and tied a Memphis record with 11 blocks, but despite holding leads late in games two and three, the Tigers were unable to close out the match en route to a 3-2 loss in the opening match of the Eastern Illinois Pepsi Challenge Friday morning.
Senior Ashley Liford had a career day, posting a double-double of 17 kills and a career-high 25 digs in the loss. Setter Laura Côté dished out 52 assists and freshman right side hitter Kelsey Labrum finished with 10 kills for the Memphis offense that led the match in kills (64-54) and assists (57-52). The Tiger defense held EIU to a paltry .099 attack average. The other Tigers--Becky Shaffer (13), Christine Bach (12) and Sarah Bury (10)--finished with 10 or more digs. In addition to Burton's strong blocking output, Memphis got a career-high seven blocks from Rachel Theard. Bury and Labrum each tied career highs with five and six blocks, respectively. Memphis out blocked Eastern 19-8.
After forcing a fifth and deciding game with a solid defensive stand in game four, the Tigers fell behind 5-2 in the final frame. An EIU service aces ballooned the UofM deficit to five points at 12-7 and the Tigers were not able to recover.
Memphis used a strong defensive effort to dominate play in the opening set of the contest. The Tigers put forth one of the strongest single-game defensive performance in game one. Memphis limited the Eastern Illinois to just one kill and a -.212 hitting percentage in a 30-13 game-one route. While the UofM defensive held the EIU offense at bay, Côté and the Tiger offense raced out to a 15-8 advantage midway through. Côté finished the game with 14 assists on the Tiger's 17 kills. Ahead 3-2, Burton and Côté teamed up to score on three of the next four rallies as Memphis surged to a 7-2 lead. Consecutive kills by Burton, followed by a pair by Liford gave the Tiger a commanding 20-9 cushion. Memphis scored the final six points of the game for the 17-point win.
It looked as if Memphis would run off with game two, as it scored the first three points of the frame. But following a service error, an attacking error and a blocking error, EIU climbed even at 5-5. From that point on it was a tight contest. Memphis got assisted blocks from Côté and Emily Underwood to cap a 5-1 run that put the Tigers up 14-11. Holding a 20-15 lead, the tides turned as Memphis committed four consecutive offensive miscues to let Eastern Illinois back into the contest 20-19. With score knotted at 25, Memphis was unable to hold off the Panthers offense, falling 30-27.
In the third game, the Tigers again took an early lead, only to see it evaporate via a nine-point push by Eastern Illinois. Memphis fought back, and a kill by Kelsey Labrum gave the Tigers a 24-21 lead late in the set. But the Tigers again were unable to close out the win as EIU outscored them 9-4 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Memphis hit just .086 in the game on 11 kills. The Tigers also committed five service errors.
Memphis rode the back of Burton in game four, racing out to a 15-5 lead. Burton, who blasted six kills and hit .750 in the fourth, figured in on seven of the 15 tallies, hammering three kills, two solo blocks and a pair of assisted rejects. Bury teamed with Burton for blocks on consecutive points as the UofM extended a four-point lead to 13--at 18-5--on the strength of a 9-0 run. Memphis' defense again reared its head, making eight blocks and holding EIU to a .000 hitting average to force a fifth game.