Volleyball Sweeps DePaul, 3-0
Oct. 25, 2003
CHICAGO, Ill. - The University of Memphis volleyball team (24-2, 6-1 C-USA) wrapped its second-to-last Conference USA road weekend with a 3-0 sweep of the DePaul Blue Demons thanks to a lot of help from Lady Luck, Saturday. Senior Brittany Barnett led the Tigers with 17 kills, while Tiara Gilkey added 11 in the win.
The Tigers got down early in game one, 6-2, before a pair of Brittany Barnett kills and a Barnett and Shella Neba block pulled Memphis back to 7-6. The two teams then exchanged side outs until Memphis was up 14-13. The Tiger offense then sputtered, allowing DePaul to move ahead 22-20, with eight of DePaul's 11 points in that run coming off Tiger errors. But down 22-21, Neba downed a kill, then a DePaul attack error sailed long to tie the score at 22 all. DePaul maintained either a one or two point lead until the Tigers trailed 26-25. But a pair of Hristina Slancheva (Sophia, Bulgaria/First English) service aces put the Tigers up 27-26, and a Gilkey kill broke a 29-29 tie five plays later. A Barnett tip over a block gave Memphis game point at 30-29, but DePaul battled back with a kill to the deep right corner for 30-30. On the ensuing play, setter Heather Watts (Salt Lake City, Utah/Skyline) dug up a ball that the crowd and the DePaul announcer had thought was out of reach. Watts dug that ball up, and on the Blue Demons' return, Watts handled a second dig and floated it over the net. The DePaul attacker swung at the overpassed ball, but it went long for a 31-30 Memphis lead. Freshman middle Melissa Nance (Frankfort, Ind./Clinton Prairie) then stepped back to serve, watching as the ball hit the top of the net and rolled onto the floor for a service ace, giving Memphis game one, 32-30. Gilkey downed six of her 11 kills in the first game, while Barnett downed five of her 17 in game one. In all, the lead changed hands 15 times in the first game.
The second game was more of the same. Memphis trailed early in the game, finally pulling into a tie at 11 all off a Nance kill from the middle. A Barnett kill gave the Tigers their first lead of the second game since 2-1, and Memphis went on a 5-1 run to stretch its leads to 16-12. A Neba block solo of a downed ball drive gave Memphis a 17-12 lead, but then DePaul scored four more points off Tiger errors to pull to 17-16. The Blue Demons tied the score at 17 as Gilkey tried to save a ball that was falling out of bounds, but the attack attempt fell short of clearing the net. Barnett was blocked on the next play as DePaul took the lead, 18-17, but a Blue Demon ball handling error pulled the Tigers back into a tie at 18. That tie was broke and DePaul stretched the lead to 20-18 before a pair of Barnett kills, including one that rolled down the net toward center court, landed to tie the game at 20 apiece. Sophomore Kristen Hardee (Sante Fe, Texas/Sante Fe) then downed a pair of kills for a 22-20 lead, including one attack that was blocked back at her and then bounced off her shoulder and back over the net and the Blue Demon blockers, landing in play for a kill. DePaul called a time-out, hoping to break whatever lucky streak it was the Tigers had going, but the Tigers stretched the lead and closed out game two, 30-24.
It appeared that the Tigers were going to dominate game three, starting out with a 10-5 lead before DePaul stormed back, pulling within two at 12-10. A Nancy Nellans (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph) kill made it 13-10 Memphis, and a Watts service ace that rolled over the top of the net tape (the third Tiger serve to do so), pushed the lead to 14-10. But even with a four-point lead, Memphis could not put away the host Blue Demons, as DePaul downed an overpassed ball to pull within one at 21-20. On the next play, served up by DePaul, freshman libero Christen Clayton (Houston, Texas/Clear Lake) returned serve and it floated over the net, usually an invitation to a smash. But DePaul's net players swung on the overpassed ball and missed, with it hitting the ground for a bump-kill. That last play from Lady Luck broke whatever momentum it was that DePaul was trying to sway, as Memphis closed out the third gam, 30-25.
Memphis will wrap up its three-match road trip at Chicago State in its final non-conference match of the season, Sunday, at noon. The Tigers will return home to host No. 20 Louisville at 7 p.m., Friday, and will host C-USA leading Cincinnati, Saturday, at 7 p.m.