Volleyball Secures First Round Bye in C-USA Championships
Nov. 15, 2003
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball team (28-5, 9-4 C-USA) took it down to the wire, but managed to secure a first-round bye in next weekend's Conference USA tournament with a 3-1 win over Tulane (24-6, 9-4 C-USA), Saturday, in both team's regular season finale. Memphis won the first two games 30-26, 30-27 before dropping a 30-22 decision in game three. Memphis came back from 17-16 down to win the fourth game 30-24.
Tiger seniors Brittany Barnett (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) and Shella Neba (Aurora, Colo./St. Marys) both capped their home careers in style, with each finishing with 12 kills, while Neba added four block assists.
The win secured Memphis' first-ever first-round bye, but could set up a rematch with the Green Wave in the quarterfinals, this time on their home court. With the loss, Tulane earns the No. 5 seed in the C-USA tournament, and will face the No. 12 seed in the opening round, Friday. Should Tulane get by the 12 seed, they will face the No. 4 seeded Tigers on Saturday.
Friday's contest was statistically very similar, with Tulane downing 61 kills to Memphis' 60, and hitting .194, while the Tigers hit .193. The Green Wave out-blocked Memphis 13-7, but it was timely kills and mini-runs that helped Memphis pull out the win.
Junior outside Tiara Gilkey led the Tigers with 13 kills, while Nancy Nellans, Barnett and Neba each finished with 12. Gilkey also led the defense with 16 digs, while Nellans added 13. Christen Clayton and Heather Watts also hit double-digits in digs with 11 and 10, respectively, in the win.
Memphis now awaits the release of the bracket from Conference USA to determine what time they will play in the tournament. Since host Tulane may be in that match, the Tigers may be looking at a 7 p.m. match against the Green Wave on their home court in the semifinals. Cincinnati secured the No. 1 seed for the tournament, but fell 3-1 at USF, Saturday, falling into a tie with Louisville at 12-1. But since the Bearcats beat the Cardinals in Cincinnati, they will earn the league's top seed. Southern Miss earned the No. 3 seed with the win over Memphis, Friday, and with the win, Memphis earned the No. 4 seed.