Tiger Volleyball Hosts O'Charley's Tiger Invitational this Weekend
Sept. 1, 2005
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis volleyball will host the O'Charley's Tiger Invitational this weekend at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. Along with the Tigers, the field consists of Alabama A&M, Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and UT-Martin. Memphis has won each of the last two annual tournaments. The Tigers will face UAPB and Alabama A&M on Friday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. Memphis will wrap up the tournament on Saturday with matches against UT-Martin at 11:30 a.m. followed by a showdown with UALR at 7 p.m.
Memphis enters the weekend 2-1 after finishing second in the Arkansas Invitational Tournament last weekend. Memphis handed Belmont and North Texas losses before falling the Lady Razorbacks in straight sets in the title match. The Tigers are led offensively by senior Nancy Nellans and sophomore Ashley Liford, who both nailed 34 kills last weekend. In the season-opening win over Belmont, Nellans became just the 10th Tiger spiker ever to record 1,000 kills and digs in a career. Middle hitters Melissa Nance and Shelby Burton are hitting .290 and .286, respectively. Burton and libero Christen Clayton, who both earned Arkansas Invitational All-tournament honors, have paced Memphis on the defensive end. Burton leads the team with 11 total blocks, while Clayton served up team-high seven aces and logged 47 digs.
The U of M has dominated the field, holding a combined 37-8 mark. Memphis holds a 1-0 mark against Alabama A&M and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, both of the SWAC. The Tigers are 6-3 against Arkansas-Little Rock, and the U of M has bested UT-Martin in 29 of the 34 matches against the Skyhawks.
Memphis' first opponent, Arkansas-Pine Bluff will open its 2005 slate this weekend. Under the leadership of Head Coach Kawanza Bibles, the Lions struggled to a 2-29 finish in 2004. UAPB opened up the 2004 season with a 21-match losing streak. They return four starters from last year's team.
Alabama A&M returns to Memphis for the second straight year. The Bulldogs finished as runner-up in the 2004 Memphis Invitational Tournament. Head Coach Betty Austin returns eight letterwinners and a trio of starters from last year's squad that went 22-6 and claimed the SWAC title. The Bulldogs also made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament where they were knocked out by UC-Santa Barbara, 3-0. The Bulldogs are currently 0-3 after dropping matches to Tennessee State, Middle Tennessee and UTEP last weekend at the Middle Tennessee Tournament.
UT-Martin is also 0-3 after losing to West Virginia, Ohio and Idaho at Ohio's tournament last weekend. The Skyhawks dropped all thee matches in straight sets. UTM is hitting just .055 as a team, while opponents are hitting at a .228 clip with 14.28 kills per game. Jamie Hollins leads the team in digs and kills with 24 and 20, respectively. The opposition holds a 134-78 advantage in the kills department.
Memphis will wrap up the weekend against UALR. The Trojans are 1-3, but have faced tough competition in Kansas State, Missouri State and Saint Louis. Through four matches, five Trojans have downed at least 30 kills. Larisa Durmisevic leads the pack with 42 (2.80/g), while Ivanka Davidova and Ana Carolina Buccini both have 38. UALR is hitting .242 as a team and have held opponents to .180. Megan Naborowski leads the team with 63 digs. Iva Adzic is close behind with 47. Adzic also paces the squad with seven aces.
The O'Charley's Tiger Invitation schedule is as follows:
Friday, September 2, 2005 Arkansas-Little Rock vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 9 a.m. UT-Martin vs. Alabama A&M 11:30 a.m. Memphis vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 2 p.m. Arkansas-Little Rock vs. UT-Martin 4:30 p.m. Memphis vs. Alabama A&M 7 p.m.