Volleyball Uses Defense to Sink East Carolina, 3-1
Sept. 28, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. -
Memphis (11-5; 2-1 C-USA) 25 25 21 25 East Carolina (11-7; 1-2 C-USA) 23 20 25 23
Memphis' defense posted 14 total blocks, including 22 block assists to hold East Carolina to just .087 hitting and claim a tough 3-1 win in Conference USA play on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers improve to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in league action. ECU drops to 11-7, 1-2 in C-USA play.
"It was nice to see our team bounce back after Friday night's game," said head coach April Jauregui. "This win was a team win. Every match we have a different player step up and be a key factor. When we find more consistency, we will continue to get better. Our goal is to improve every match and today we did that. We passed the ball extremely well which allowed us to run our offense."
Memphis hit .206 in the contest and got a match-high 47 assists from setter Laura Côté. Junior outside hitter Lauren Thompson led all players with 14 kills and a .423 attack percentage, while Rebekah Strickland downed 13 kills.
"Laura Côté did an excellent job distributing the ball," Jauregui commented. "Her poise kept our team calm under pressure."
Côté's leadership helped Memphis overcome a four-point deficit in the fourth set. With ECU pushing to force a deciding set and holding a 10-6 lead, the Tigers made a run. Consecutive kills by Emily Underwood and Thompson fueled a 6-0 run in which Memphis overtook ECU to hold a 12-10 advantage. The Pirates refused to go down easily, rebounding to tie the set three times, before Strickland put the Tigers on top for good, 15-14, with a solo block--one of her six stuffs on the afternoon. Strickland and Underwood teamed up for assisted rejections on the next play for a 15-14 lead. That would be enough for the Tigers as they closed the match out with blocks from Underwood and Côté for a 25-23 victory.
The first set saw both teams struggle for control, with neither able to do so until Memphis gained a set-point serve after a kill by Underwood. With the 24-23 lead, Thompson sealed the set with her fourth kill of the day. The opener saw 13 ties, with the final tie coming at 23-23. Memphis was able to overcome six serving errors with a solid .314 attack percentage, while its defense limited ECU to just .042. Inglish matched Thompson's offensive output with four first period kills. Côté set 15 assists in the first.
Set two was more of the same, with both squads equally battling through nine ties before Inglish and Strickland connected on back-to-back kills to give Memphis a 21-19 cushion. From there the Tigers increased the lead 23-19 after assisted blocks by Strickland and Underwood. A service error broke the Memphis serve, but Strickland knocked down her fourth kill of the game and a hitting error by ECU closed the set to send the Tigers into the break with a 2-0 advantage. Memphis countered four more service errors with a strong defensive game, holding ECU to a cold .000 hitting percentage.
Memphis was unable to clinch the sweep in the third, falling 25-21 despite another solid defensive effort that held ECU to just .111 hitting. However, the Tigers hit .071 and the Pirates made five blocks to avoid being swept. Trailing 7-6, Memphis gave up a 10-4 run to fall behind by seven. The Tiger made it interesting, coming back to cut the deficit to 21-20 by scoring on 10 of the next 14 serves. With the score at 22-21, Memphis committed three straight attacking errors to make it 2-1 contest.
The Tigers will now return home for a pair of C-USA matches against Tulane (Oct. 3) and UTEP (Oct. 5).