Tiger Volleyball Set for Season-Opener versus Kent State
Aug. 24, 2006
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The University of Memphis volleyball team will kickoff its 2006 season on Friday, when it takes on Kent State at the University of Evansville Aces Invitational Tournament. Match time is slated for 5 p.m. The Tigers will face Austin Peay and Evansville on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.
Memphis is 20-15 all-time in season-openers, but has enjoyed continual success under Head Coach Carrie Yerty. In Yerty's 10 seasons at the helm of the volleyball program, the Tigers have an 8-2 mark in season-opening contests, including winning each of the last four years.
Offensively, Yerty's Tigers return three of their top four attackers from last year's team that finished 16-16. Junior outside hitter Ashley Liford returns as the leading hitter after finishing second on the squad with 366 kills last year. Junior middle blocker Shelby Burton and senior middle blocker Melissa Nance are also back after ranking first and second on last year's team, respectively, in attack percentage. Burton is currently ranked second on the Tigers' all-time hitting percentage list. Sophomore setter Laura Côtè, who set a freshman record with 1,451 assists a season ago, is back at the controls of the Memphis offense.
Defensively, senior libero Christen Clayton, who set a program record with 466 digs in 2005, will anchor an improved defense. Burton and Nance will also play vital roles on the defensive side of the net after leading the team blocks last year.
The Tigers' first opponent, Kent State is coming off a 9-12 season--its worst in 12 years. However, the Flashes reloaded by signing a strong recruiting class that was ranked in the top 50 in the nation by prepvolleyball.com. The Flashes, who return seven letterwinners from last year, were tabbed to finish fourth in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll. Memphis has played Kent State just once before on the volleyball court. The Tigers came away with a 3-2 win back in the 2001 season.
Austin Peay comes off a tough 10-21 season, in which they finished 10th in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Governors return 11 letterwinners and five starters from last year's club. The Lady Govs were picked seventh out of 11 teams in the OVC preseason poll. Memphis holds a 17-1 advantage over APSU in the all-time series, despite not having met since the 1996 season.
Tournament host Evansville, finished the 2005 season 10-22 overall and 5-13 in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Purple Aces have six returning starters and were picked to finish eight in the MVC preseason poll. Memphis is 2-0 all-time against Evansville.