Volleyball Readies for Season Opener
Aug. 28, 2002
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - With six freshmen on the roster and just three returning upperclassmen, University of Memphis volleyball head coach Carrie Yerty could find herself short-staffed heading into a tough weekend tournament at Georgia Southern University.
Yerty may be without two of her three middle hitters, including the team's only senior Brooke Chrisman and junior Shella Neba, who led the team with a .293 hitting percentage last season. Both Tigers are currently sidelined with injuries.
"We are looking at possibly starting three freshmen," Yerty said. "If Nan Kimbrell is healthy, I think she'll get some playing time on the outside, and I think Kristen Hardee and Lauren Bergcould also start a match of two for us this weekend."
The loss of two of three upperclassmen may make a repeat of last year's 10-0 school-record best start a little more difficult, as will the competition at the Georgia Southern tournament.
"We're going up against three teams that won their conference last year. Georgia State won the Atlantic Sun regular season, Western Kentucky has won the last two Sun Belt East Division titles, and Georgia Southern is coming off a Southern Conference Championship. A key to our team's success this season was our staying healthy, so the injuries to Brooke and Shella are major issues right now," Yerty said.
The team will have the services of outside hitter Brittany Barnett and middle-hitter turned outside hitter Tiara Gilkey. Barnett was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2000, after posting 105 block assists, which still ranks as the seventh-highest single season record in Tiger history and Gilkey recovered from off-season knee surgery to down 43 kills over the last part of the season.
"We will look to both Brittany and Tiara to pick us up this weekend," Yerty said. "If we don't get either Shella or Brooke back by Friday, we may have to move Tiara back to the middle for this tournament."
Sophomore Heather Watts also returns for the Tigers. After leading all Conference USA defensive specialists in service aces last season (36), Watts moved to the team's only setter spot with the graduation of Conference USA second team honoree Amie Hamilton.
The Tigers, who posted Yerty's first 20-win season last year, open their 2002 schedule against Georgia State at 10 a.m., Friday. They will face Charleston Southern at 4 p.m., Friday, before squaring off against Western Kentucky at 8 a.m., Saturday. Memphis will wrap up its participation in the Georgia Southern tournament against the host school at 2 p.m., Saturday.
Memphis opens its home schedule Sept. 3rd against cross-town rival Christian Brothers. The Tigers will then host the Cal's Steakhouse Memphis Tournament, Sept. 6-7. Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Middle Tennessee, and Birmingham Southern will join Memphis in that tournament.