Tiger Volleyball Wins Five-Game Battle at Rice
Sept. 24, 2006
Rice (6-9; 0-2 C-USA) 25 26 30 30 10 Memphis (15-2; 2-1 C-USA) 30 30 24 18 15
Senior libero Christen Clayton made a career-best 32 digs and Ashley Liford stepped up with a season-best 22 kills and 13 digs as Memphis weathered a strong Rice rally to take a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon. Memphis improves to 15-2.
Clayton's 32 digs is tied for the second-most in Memphis volleyball history and is the most since Amie Hamilton posted 32 digs against crosstown opponent CBU in 2000. The Houston native made 14 digs in game three and had 28 digs through four games. She is now 11 digs shy of Memphis' career digs mark of 1,491 set by Hamilton.
After dropping games three and four and hitting a combined .132, Memphis regrouped for a strong run in the deciding game. Consecutive kills by Liford, followed by a kill by Shelby Burton gave the Tigers and early 3-0 lead. Memphis took an 8-6 lead midway through, and extended its lead to five points, 12-7, after a pair of hitting errors by the Rice offense. The Tigers never let go of the five-point cushion in a 15-10 win. Rice hit -.042 in the final game.
Memphis and Rice battled to a 12-12 tie midway through the opening set. A kill by Sarah Bury ignited an 8-4 push the put the Tigers ahead for good 20-16. Bury downed 16 kills on the afternoon. A service aces by Clayton increase Memphis' lead to five points at 25-20 and the team was able to maintain that cushion in a 30-25 triumph.
Rice took its first lead of the match early in the second frame, and used a 5-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 19-13 just over halfway through. That's when Memphis' offense took over the contest. After an Owl service error and a pair of attack errors, Liford ignited a 6-0 Tiger rally with three consecutive kills to give Memphis a 25-24 lead--its first since a 5-3 cushion early in the game. The Tigers never let up as Liford and Burton fueled a four-point push to seal the 30-26 win. Memphis, who hit .302 in the set, ended game three on an 11-2 run.
The match was extended the distance by dominant performances by Rice in games three and four. In game four, the Owls, who hit .414 in the game, used a five-point rally to take a 6-4 lead and never trailed for the remainder of the game. Three consecutive blocks extended the Rice advantage to 18-10. RU's advantage ballooned to an insurmountable 12 points, 29-17, after a 6-0 Owls surge.
Rice overcame an early Tiger lead by scoring seven-straight points to take an 8-3 lead. Three consecutive kills by Sarah Bury, followed by a service ace by Liford cut Memphis' deficit to just one point at 17-16. Rice responded by scoring the next three points to go up 20-16 and Memphis never challenged the lead in a 30-24 final.
Memphis got a double-double of 53 assists and 14 digs from setter Laura Côté. Burton posted 12 kills and five blocks.
Memphis will return to the friendly confines of the Elma Roane Fieldhouse for a rematch with UAB on Fri., Sept. 29. First serve is set for 7 p.m.