Rebekah Strickland Leads Memphis Volleyball Past UTEP, 3-1
Oct. 5, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -
UTEP (5-12; 1-3 C-USA) 25 17 13 20 Memphis (12-6; 3-2 C-USA) 19 25 25 25
Memphis got off to a slow start, but rallied behind Rebekah Strickland's match-high 14 kills, .462 attack percentage and six total blocks to a strong finish in a 3-1 win over UTEP in C-USA action on Sunday afternoon at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. The Tigers improve to 12-6 on the year and 3-2 in Conference USA action. UTEP drops its second straight to fall to 5-12 overall, 1-3 in league play.
"It was nice to bounce back with a win after Friday night's loss," said head coach April Jauregui. "We came out in game one pretty flat, but we turned it on in sets two, three and four. We had some remarkable personal performances. Rebekah Strickland with 14 kills just couldn't be stopped and then Carolyn Baker really is emerging as a premier blocker in our league even as a freshman. The last two matches she's out blocked Emily (Underwood), who is the nation's leading blocker. It's nice to have two middles that are just blocking balls down. It really helps our team and our defense."
A slow Memphis start allowed UTEP to break an 8-8 tie with a strong seven-point push to take control of the opening frame, 15-8. Memphis staged a rally of its own and scored on nine of the next 14 serves to cut the Miners cushion to just three points, 20-17. That was as close as the Tigers could come as UTEP four straight to take a 24-17 lead and go on to a six-point win. The Memphis offense struggled mightily in the first, hitting just .061. UTEP won the attacking battle 14 kills to seven.
The Tigers bounced back to tie the match at 1-1 with a 25-17 victory in the second period. Strickland got the offense going with kills on her first three swings of the set to help Memphis take a 5-1 lead and force a UTEP timeout. The Miners cut the U of M lead to two points at 7-5, but the Tigers quickly answered with four scores on the next five rallies to push to an 11-6 advantage. Ahead 12-8, UTEP helped the Memphis cause by committing service errors on five of its next six serves as the Tigers pushed the lead to 22-13 late in the set. Both teams struggled in the serving game as the two combined for 12 service errors. UTEP made eight, while Memphis had four. The set was an evenly played one, with both team collecting 11 kills. The Tigers hit a blistering .435, while the Miners hit .412.
Memphis gripped tightly to its set-two momentum and carried it into the third period to hit .481 and sideout at an 84-percent clip. The set was close through the first seven serves, with Memphis holding a slight 4-3 advantage. Kills by Emily Underwood and Lauren Thompson fueled a five-point run that put the Tigers on top 9-3. UTEP's Amy Sanders downed one of her nine kills on the afternoon to close the gap to 13-9, but that was as close as Memphis would allow the Miners as Strickland struck for two more kills to help the Tigers push the lead to 19-12. The U of M then scored the next five points to put the set away.
The Tiger defense stepped up in the final frame, making six blocks and holding the Miners to a .000 attack percentage. With the score tied 4-4, Strickland hammered home a kill to ignite a 5-0 run. It looked as if the Tigers would cruise to the finish after Carolyn Baker scored a kill to make it 16-11. But the Miners had their eyes set on a fifth set and put up an 8-3 rally to tie the period at 19-19. After a Memphis timeout, the Tigers got a kill from Thompson and UTEP committed three consecutive hitting errors -one of which was a block by Thompson--as Memphis surged ahead 23-19. Baker and Strickland connected on consecutive kills to put the match away with a 25-20 win in the fourth.
Memphis hit .281 in the match and held UTEP to just .116. Setter Laura Côté led the team with 39 assists, while Miner setter Patty Jarmoc set a match-high 41 assists. Baker slammed down a career-best nine kills and hit .353 for the Tigers.
Defensively, it was the Tiger blockers that made a sizeable impact on the contest. Six players combined to make 14.5 blocks. Baker and Strickland led all players with six rejections each. Underwood and had five, while Côté and Thompson added four, respectively. Becky Shaffer and Lauren Trouy led the Memphis back line with nine digs. UTEP's Sanders led all players with 10 digs.
Memphis will now prepare to play its next three tilts on the road. That swing will begin on Tues., Oct. 7, when they travel to Jonesboro, Ark., to take on Arkansas State at 7 p.m.