Volleyball Opens C-USA Play With 3-2 Win Over Saint Louis
Oct. 1, 2004
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball team opened its Conference USA schedule in thrilling fashion as they outlasted Saint Louis, 3-2 (30-22, 26-30, 30-28, 28-30, 17-15). The Tigers got a career-high 29 kills from junior Nancy Nellans and 72 assists from Heather Watts. The win improves the U of M to 16-4 overall and 1-0 in C-USA.
"This is the most exciting Conference USA match we have played in since I have been at Memphis," said head coach Carrie Yerty. "I'm so proud of the team. We had to play without Melissa (Nance) and Shelby stepped up and had a great night"
Memphis, who extended its current winning streak to nine matches, got four kills each from Nellans, senior Tiara Gilkey and freshman Ashley Liford in the final game to clinch the victory. Memphis led by as much as three in the final frame after a Shelby Burton kill made it 6-3, but Saint Louis scored the next three points to tie the game at six. After nine ties, the Tigers finally gained the advantage when Nellans downed her 29th kill and Watts followed with the match-clinching service ace.
Game one saw Memphis win by the biggest margin for either team, 30-22. Burton got out of the gates quickly with five of her career-high 13 kills and a .571 attack percentage. The Tigers also got five kills from Nellans and Gilkey slammed four kills for a .571 hitting percentage. As a team, Memphis hit a blistering .429 in the first-game triumph.
The second set was not so easy, as SLU's Aida Antanaviciute touched the Tiger defense for seven of the Billikens' 16 kills. Antanaviciute finished with a match-high 36 kills, while putting up a .397 average. The Billikens scored seven of the last nine points to even the slate at 1-1.
The two teams battled to a split of the next two matches. Nellans poured it on in the third game, hammering down seven kills to pace Memphis, who hit just .171 in the set.
Memphis spotted Saint Louis a 6-0 lead to start the fourth game and played catch-up for the majority of the contest. Memphis pulled even at 20-20 and battled to eight more ties before SLU put the game away to send the match to the fifth and deciding game.
"This was a total team effort," said Memphis head coach Carrie Yerty. "We kept our composure and stayed aggressive throughout the match and even in tight situations. The fans were a big boost for our team."
Memphis finished with a trio of players with double figures in kills in Nellans, Gilkey (19) and Burton (13). The Tiger defense got a team-high 16 digs from Christen Clayton, while Watts and Nellans posted 14 and 12 each.
Memphis will now prepare for its first C-USA road test, when they battle Southern Miss and Tulane in consecutive days, on Oct. 1 and 2, respectively.