Volleyball Improves to 5-1 on the Road
Nov. 7, 2003
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The University of Memphis volleyball team (26-4, 7-3 C-USA) improved to 5-1 on the road in league play with a 3-0 at East Carolina (10-18, 1-9 C-USA), Friday.
The Tigers struggled early with the hard-hitting Lady Pirates, falling behind 10-5 before embarking on a 6-3 run that pulled them within 13-11. Junior Tiara Gilkey (Creve Coeur, Mo./Pattonsville) downed one of her team-leading 22 kills to pull Memphis within one at 13-12, but ECU answered back with a kill tooled off the Tiger blockers to keep Memphis at bay. But a Gilkey-Shella Neba (Aurora, Colo./St. Mary's) block combined with another Gilkey kill and an ECU attack error pulled Memphis even for the first time in the game at 15 all. A Gilkey service ace gave Memphis its first lead of the game, but ECU rallied back to knot the score again on the next play and again put Memphis down and went up by as many as two at 18-16 before a Brittany Barnett (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) kill and a Melissa Nance (Frankfort, Ind./Clinton Prairie) tied the score again at 18. ECU would again use Tiger errors and some well-placed balls to run out toa 23-20 lead and was up 26-22 when Tiger Head Coach Carrie Yerty called time out. At that point in the match, Memphis, which was averaging 16 digs per game, had just seven digs.
Memphis then went on a 5-1 run and knotted the score at 27 apiece off a Nance and Barnett block. ECU again took a lead, which Memphis tied off a Gilkey kill. When ECU was called for a lift and when setter Heather Watts (Salt Lake City, Utah/Skyline) dumped the second ball off a pass from Christen Clayton (Houston, Texas/Clear Lake), Memphis found itself up 30-29, having battled off game point at 29-28. A Gilkey attack error meant yet another tie, the seventh of the first game, but a Gilkey kill and an ECU attack error helped Memphis escape with game one, 32-30.
The Tigers took another run at the come-back kids crown by falling behind 11-5 early in the second game. Again, the Tigers started a rally and pulled even at 16 all on an ECU service error. And again, the score would tie three times before Memphis emerged with a 19-18 lead off a Gilkey kill. The Tigers then put together a little mini-run and looked to be closing out the second game, up 24-19, when ECU blocked a pair of Nancy Nellans (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph) attacks to close to 24-23. Yerty went to the bench and inserted sophomore Kristen Hardee (Sante Fe, Texas/Sante Fe), and Hardee came out and downed her first swing to keep Memphis up 25-23. But even with a 28-27 lead, the Tigers could not put away a scrappy ECU squad. ECU rallied back to tie the game at 28 all and took the lead on a Gilkey attack error before a Barnett kill pulled the game back to a tie at 30 all. That marked the second straight game Memphis had to battle off an ECU game point, but this time, the Lady Pirates had more fight. The game tied at 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35 before a Nance kill gave Memphis a 36-35 lead. When Barnett downed another kill, Memphis escaped the game with a 37-35.
"Kristen Hardee did an amazing job tonight," Yerty said. "She came in off the bench and immediately made a difference in our offense, ourpassing and in stabilizing our back-row play. And Heather set an amazing game tonight, I'm just glad to escape out of here with a win."
Memphis came out and dominated game three, again having to fight off a lull in the offensive game, but grabbing game three, 30-21.
Gilkey led all players with 22 kills, while Barnett added a double-double of 15 kills and 10 digs. Heather Watts had 55 assists in the win.
"It's nice to see that Tiara's back," Yerty said. "She had some big hits and some timely blocking for us tonight."
Memphis will play its final regular season road match at Charlotte, Saturday. The Tigers face a four-hour bus ride Friday night from Greenville to Charlotte before facing the 49ers on their senior night.
ECU remains at home for its homecoming and senior night with a C-USA clash with Saint Louis. Both teams are in a battle for the 12th and final playoff spot in the C-USA tournament.