Volleyball Weathers Another 3-2 Scare at UT Martin
Sept. 9, 2003
MARTIN, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball team (7-1) survived a second 3-2 (30-20, 28-30, 29-31, 30-25, 15-12) scare in two weeks in their first dual match of the season, Tuesday. Having faced each other less than two weeks ago, Memphis and UT Martin knew one another well, and were well-prepared for another night of all out battling.
"UT Martin, when they play Memphis, they come to play," Head Coach Carrie Yerty said. "This crowd was unreal and we really had to struggle to maintain our composure. We really just escaped out of here by the skin of our teeth."
The Tiger outside hitters, normally the offense's strong point with three hitters averaging over 3.0 kills per game, struggled, with senior Brittany Barnett (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) and sophomore Nancy Nellans (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph) hitting negative, although still downing 11 kills apiece, while junior Tiara Gilkey (Creve Coeur, Mo./Pattonsville), who was hitting over .300 prior to the match, hit .159, still downing 18 kills, but also committing 11 errors. Gilkey's hitting percentage dropped to .283 with the UTM outing.
"This was easily our worst outside hitting performance of the year," Yerty said. "(UTM) did a great job and kept the pressure on, and we really got a great performance from Kristen Hardee (Sante Fe, Texas/Sante Fe) in all that pressure. She only had nine swings, but she came in at very crucial times and put down four kills and had one dig."
Luckily for the outsides, the Tiger middle hitters were able to keep Memphis afloat. Senior Shella Neba (Aurora, Colo./St. Marys) downed 15 kills, hit .462 and posted seven total blocks in the win, while freshman Melissa Nance (Frankfort, Ind./Clinton Prairie) hit .250, downing nine kill and adding six blocks and three service aces in the win.
The Tiger defense also saved the team, as Memphis out-dug UTM 80-68. Five Tigers tallying double-digit digs, led by 17 from junior setter Heater Watts (Sandy, Utah/Skyline). Watts, who also knotched her 100th career service ace in the win, added 57 assists and five block assists in the win. Freshman libero Christen Clayton (Houston, Texas/Clear Lake) added 16 digs, while Nellans and Gilkey added 15 and 14, respectively. Barnett rounded out the double-digit defenders with 12 digs.
Memphis opens its home schedule, Friday, in the University of Memphis Invitational, against Tennessee Tech. That match, the second of the tournament, is slated to begin at 7 p.m.