Volleyball Battles to Hard-Fought Win Over Central Arkansas
Sept. 12, 2008
STARKVILLE, Miss. -
Memphis (5-3) 25 25 25 25 Central Arkansas (4-3) 20 27 22 23
In a closely contested match in which the young Memphis volleyball squad had to make plays to win, they did just that en route to earning a tough 3-1 win over Central Arkansas in the opening competition of the 2008 Bulldog Club Invitational at Mississippi State. Emily Underwood led Memphis on both sides of the net, downing 11 kills and coming one block shy of her first career double-double with nine blocks (two solo, seven assisted). Katlin Inglish and Lauren Thompson both nailed down 10 kills, and setter Laura Côté set 35 assists.
Underwood got solid help from her back row defenders Christine Bach and Becky Shaffer. Bach led the team with 16 digs, while picked up 11 for the Tigers, who held UCA to .143 hitting on the afternoon. Memphis outblocked UCA 12-4 in the match.
In the opening set of the day, the Tigers and Sugar Bears tussled through six ties before Katlin Inglish put down a kill to knot things at 11. That would be the last time UCA would threaten as a termination by Rebekah Strickland combined with a pair of Sugar Bear attacking errors fueled a four-point Tiger swing to make it 14-11. Another kill by Inglish and two more hitting errors by UCA stretched the U of M advantage to 17-13 and forced UCA to take a timeout. Memphis pushed the lead to 20-15 on a strike by Thompson. But UCA would not go down easily and put together a 5-1 rally to cut the Tiger lead to 21-20. With the game in the balance, Memphis got a kill from Thompson and Underwood put down an easy kill on an over-pass for a 23-20 lead. The Tigers wrapped up the 25-20 victory in the opening set with a 4-0 run.
A kill by Côté and consecutive blocks by the Tiger defense gave the U of M a 3-0 lead to start the second set. UCA responded by scoring on seven of the next 11 serves to tie the set at 7-7. With the set tied at 15, Memphis seemingly took control of things on a kill by Thompson, an ace by Casey Sines and assisted blocks from Underwood and Thompson in successive serves, giving the Tigers an 18-15 lead and forcing a UCA timeout. The Sugar Bears came out of the timeout and put together a 5-2 push to tie the frame at 20-all. A Tiger attack error made it 24-23 in favor of UCA, but Memphis came back with kills from Inglish and Thompson to take the lead, 25-24. However, the lead was short-lived as UCA scored the final three points of the set for a 27-25 decision, evening the match at 1-1.
Memphis came out strong for the third set, using a pair of aces by Shaffer and two blocks to go up 4-0. As was the case in the first two sets, UCA fought back to tie the contest at 6-6. Neither team could assert its power on the other for the remainder of the set. Memphis' largest lead was a three-point advantage, while UCA could not build a lead of more than one point. The frame saw 13 ties. The Tigers trailed 22-21, but a pair of hitting errors by the Sugar Bears gave them a 23-22 lead and they never lost control of the cushion in a 25-23 win.
It looked as if the Tigers would cruise to the finish line, using a 12-4 rally to take an 18-10 lead on the Sugar Bears. But the match was not an easy one for the U of M to close out as UCA erased the large lead with a 13-5 run to knot the set at 23 and threaten a deciding game. But with a fifth set looming, Underwood and Côté combined for a stuff-block and an attacking error by UCA gave Memphis the 25-23 victory.
For UCA, it was Chloe Smith's 17 kills and Jessica Hays' 15 terminations that led the way. Robyn Smith dished out a match-high 47 assists. The Sugar Bears defense got a match-best 21 digs from libero Kelsey Bence.
Memphis will now take on Centenary at 4:30 p.m.