Volleyball Sweeps Ole Miss, 3-0
Oct. 21, 2003
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball team (22-2) out-dug the Ole Miss volleyball team 54-39 in a 3-0 (30-24, 30-25, 30-25) win in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, Tuesday. A lot of the push for the Tiger defense came from freshman defensive players Christen Clayton and Emily Steckel.
"Our freshman defensive players did a great job," Yerty said. "Between Emily Steckel, Christen Clayton and Kristen Hardee, those are three players who we maybe do not rely on all the time to pull us through, but they definitely did tonight."
Clayton would dig up 11 attacks for the Tigers, while Steckel stepped into a struggling Tiger passing game to add some defense and some consistent passing. Hardee came in off the bench to down six kills with a .364 hitting percentage while playing in just the third game.
The series history, the longest in the Tiger record books, was knotted at 32-32 before Tuesday night's meeting. That was a precursor of what was to come, as Memphis used the crowd and the momentum of being home to take a 5-1 lead early in game one. The lead would stretch to 13-6 and Ole Miss could never quite close the gap in the 30-24 game one Tiger win.
"Any win over an SEC school is a good win for us," Tiger Head Coach Carrie Yerty said. "And the rivalry between Ole Miss and our program is one that adds a whole other layer to our matches."
But the shoe was on the other foot in game two. This time it was the Rebels who went up early, 4-1, on a trio of Tiger attack errors and Rachel Refenes kills. But two kills from Tiger senior Brittany Barnett and some timely service aces from Nancy Nellans and Melissa Nance dragged the Tigers back to eight-all. The score would knot up again at nine before Ole Miss took an 11-9 lead on Refenes and Jaclyn Toohey kills. The score would tie up against at 12, 13, 14 and 15 before a Nellans kill gave the Tigers a 16-15 lead. The Tigers would use a mini-run to go up 19-17 before Ole Miss came back on the wings of a Tiger attack error and a Megan McCune and Refenes block, the Rebels' only block of the second game, to even the match at 19. Memphis went up 20-19 on a Tiara Gilkey putdown of an over-passed ball, but the Rebels answered back with kills from Kristin Carroll and Refenes and a Tiger attack error to retake the lead 23-21. The score would knot again at 24 on a Refenes service error, and an Ole Miss attack error, followed by a blocking error gave the Tigers all the cushion they would need to go up 26-24. Memphis then outscored Ole Miss, 4-1, to close out game two, 30-25.
Game three again started out with Memphis in the hole. After tying at 1-1, Memphis committed one attack error and was blocked on three straight points before finding themselves down 5-2. Yerty went to the Tiger bench, substituting Kristen Hardee into the line-up. Hardee answered with two kills on the next three plays, and soon Memphis was back to 7-6 down after a Heather Watts service ace. But the Tiger run stalled as McCune aced the Tigers and kept them from getting into an offensive flow, helping the Rebels go up 10-6. The two teams then traded one and two points runs until one of Hardee's six game three kills went down to tie the game at 14. As it did in game two, the score knotted and 15 and 16 before one of Gilkey's team-leading 13 kills scored a Tiger point to go up 17-16. Memphis then went on a 10-2 run that seemed to put the game well out of the Rebels' reach, but at 29-23, the Rebels stood their ground and staved off a pair of match points before a Lucianna Lima service error sailed long to close out the match, 30-25.
Gilkey and Barnett downed double-digit kills for Memphis, finishing with 13 and 10, respectively. Barnett added seven digs and two blocks. Setter Heather Watts led all players with 43 assists, compared to just 28 for the Ole Miss setter. The junior setter added 10 digs and a block solo in the win.
"Heather did a great job again tonight of distributing the ball," Yerty said. "This time she did it off of some not great passes."
Refenes led the Rebls with eight kills and five total blocks, while Toohey added seven. Libero Karla Zschau led the team with 11 digs, while McCune finished with two service aces.