Volleyball Hits the Road for Troy Trojan Labor Day Classic
Aug. 31, 2006
TROY, Ala. -
The University of Memphis volleyball team aims to keep its record perfect this weekend when it takes on UT-Martin, Alcorn State and Troy in the Trojan Labor Day Classic. The Tigers will play the Skyhawks at 1 p.m., and Braves at 7 p.m., in a doubleheader on Fri., Sept. 1, followed by a single match with the home team Troy Trojans at 3 p.m. on Sat., Sept 2.
Memphis has used a strong offensive attack to get off to a fast 3-0 start. Led by junior middle blocker Shelby Burton's 49 kills and .488 hitting percentage, the Tigers raced to a sweep of the competition en route to claiming the Evansville Aces Invitational last weekend. Burton was named to tournament's MVP. The Tigers also got stellar play from Conference USA Co-Setter of the Week, Laura Côtè. The Canadian native served up a C-USA leading 13.75 assists per game last weekend, including a 66-assists performance in a five-game win over Austin Peay. Sophomore Sarah Bury has come up big in the Tigers offense. After playing middle blocker in 2005, Bury moved to the outside hitter position for the 2006 season and has 40 kills on a team-high 101 attempts.
Defensively, libero Christen Clayton has continued to excel, making a team-high 58 digs. The Tiger senior has made double figures in digs in all three matches and ranks seventh all-time at Memphis with 1,616 career digs. The Tigers middle blockers have been a tough obstacle for opposing hitters, making 18 of the team's 30 total blocks.
UT-Martin is 3-1 after opening the 2006 schedule with a strong showing in the McAlister's Battle at the Beach Tournament at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Junior Sarah Jett and sophomore transfer Taylor Noland were named to the all-tournament team. The Skyhawks opened the tournament by dropping a tough five-game contest to North Carolina-Greensboro. The Skyhawks then blanked Winston-Salem State, 3-0. UTM posted a 3-0 victory over tournament host North Carolina-Wilmington and wrapped up the two-day tournament with a convincing 3-0 victory over South Carolina State. The Skyhawks offense is led by Kathryn Sprague's 41 kills (3.15 k/g). Taylor Noland and Sarah Jett rank second and third with 37 and 32 kills, respectively. Setter Shelby Knose has 137 assists and a team-high 13 aces. UTM has posted a 184-149 advantage in the kills category and is hitting .316 as a team.
Defensively, libero Anna Gautreau paces the Skyhawks with 33 digs (2.54 d/g), while Tammy Konitzer adds 1.85 digs per set. The Skyhawk defense has held opposing teams to just .187 hitting.
The Tigers are 30-5 all-time against the Skyhawks dating back to the 1971 season. Memphis swept UT-Martin in last year's meeting. The Tigers have won six-straight contest against the Skyhawks, and 21 of last 22 match ups. UT-Martin last defeated Memphis 3-1 in 1997.
Alcorn State returns 10 letter winners, including all six starters from last year's team that struggled to a 0-26 finish. The Braves are coached by second-year head coach Yolanda Brown.
Memphis and Alcorn State have met on the volleyball court just twice prior to this year's meeting. The Tigers handed the Braves a pair 3-0 losses in 1988 and 1989 in the only two meetings between the two schools.
Troy enters the weekend with an 0-3 mark. The Trojans dropped matches against Tulsa, North Florida and St. Mary's College. They were swept by Tulsa and St. Mary's. Aubre Smith leads the Trojans attack with 29 kills (2.90 k/g). The Trojans, who have been aced 29 times in three matches, are led by Carla Rasuck on the defensive side of the net. Rasuck has a team-best 50 digs (5.00 d/g), while Liz Leeds, Jean McCarthy and Meghan Washlow have 25, 24, and 23 digs each.
The Tigers have never lost to the Trojans in five meetings. Memphis has yet to lose a game to the Trojans, winning all five contests 3-0 or 2-0. The Tigers and Trojans first met on the volleyball court in 1977. Memphis swept Troy in the last meeting, in 2003.