Tiger Volleyball Advances to C-USA Championship Semifinals
Nov. 18, 2006
HOUSTON, Texas -
UTEP (7-25) 30 20 24 24 Memphis (26-7) 24 30 30 30
Memphis rode Shelby Burton's 23 kills, .579 hitting percentage and five blocks to a 3-1 win over UTEP to advance to the semifinals of the 2006 Conference USA Championship Thursday evening. The Tigers will take on the host Houston Cougars at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Burton got help from Sarah Bury and Ashley Liford, who both finished the night with double-doubles. Bury downed 15 kills and made 11 digs to go with four service aces. Liford went for 12 kills and 15 digs. Laura Côté inched closer to the C-USA sophomore record for assists, with 60. The setter, who fell just short of a double-double with nine digs, is now just 10 assists to claim the league's sophomore assists record.
"All the teams in this league are very even and we expected a tough match from UTEP," said head coach Carrie Yerty. "We just focused on what we had to do and wanted to get the first match underway because we had been sitting and watching for a long time."
Memphis advances to the C-USA semifinals for the third time in school history and the third time in four years. The Tigers joined Tulsa as the two top-seed teams to advance as No. 4 Tulane and No. 2 Marshall were bounced from competition by No. 5 UAB and No. 7 Houston, respectively.
After dropping the first game, the Tigers got rid of the first-game jitters and stormed back to knot the match a game apiece with a strong second period performance. Eight kills on nine swings from Burton combined with a 7-0 run midway through the contest, allowed Memphis cruise to the 30-20 win. The Tigers erased a 4-3 deficit by scoring six of the next seven rallies to surge ahead 9-5. The U of M led by four, 14-10, before gaining command of the game with the seven-point run. Memphis also got five kills from Liford and four from Melissa Nance. Côté ran the Tigers' offense to a .429 average with 19 assists. The defense picked up its level of play, registering 21 digs--11 of which came from Christen Clayton. Clayton posted a match-high 26 digs
After playing to a 20-20 tie, the Tigers outdueled the Miner 10-4 to take a 30-24 win and a 2-1 lead in the match. Memphis led by just one point, at 25-24 when Burton jumpstarted a game-ending 5-0 push. Five kills from Bury fueled a 19-9 advantage in the kills category for the Tigers. Memphis made 4.5 blocks to hold UTEP to a .048 hitting clip.
Game four was more Burton, as the junior led Memphis to a 30-24 match-clinching with eight kills. Burton hammered three kills in a 7-1 run that gave the Tigers control of the final set. A pair of aces by Clayton, followed by a kill from Burton gave Memphis an 18-10 cushion, and it looked as if the Tigers would run away with the win. However, UTEP got back into the game by scoring the next five points to close the gap to 18-15. Assisted blocks by Nance and Côté capped a 4-0 run that gave Memphis a eight-point spread, 26-18.
Memphis scored the game's first four points, but lost all momentum afterward as UTEP won the first battle, stunning the Tigers 30-24. The Tiger offense was held to just .087 hitting, while the defense was out dug and posted no blocks.
The Tigers held a 68-49 advantage in kills, a 65-42 lead in assists and a 76-61 cushion in digs.