Memphis Volleyball Hits the Road for Conference USA Opener versus UAB
Sept. 18, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball team will open its Conference USA schedule on Tuesday when the Tigers travel to Birmingham, Alabama to take on UAB. Match time is set for 7 p.m.
Memphis enters the conference slate riding the momentum of its strong 13-1 record. Through 14 games, the 13-1 mark is the second-best ever to be posted by a Tiger volleyball squad--second only to 2003's 14-0 record. The 2003 team reeled of 17-straight wins before suffering a loss. Memphis, who won three of its four preseason tournaments, has won six-straight matches and each of its last nine wins has been via the sweep.
The Tigers most recently swept Central Arkansas, Murray State, Alabama A&M and DePaul to walk away with the Memphis Invitational championship. Sophomore setter Laura Côté was named the tournament's MOP, while junior outside hitter Ashley Liford and sophomore outside hitter Sarah Bury were each selected as all-tournament performers.
Memphis is led by junior middle blocker Shelby Burton. Burton leads the Tigers and Conference USA in hitting percentage (.474) and blocks (1.42 bpg). She also leads the team and is ranked second in the league with 35 service aces. Her 4.29 kills per game is ranked fifth among C-USA players. Behind Burton's solid play and Côté's league-best 13.33 assists per game clip, Memphis sits atop nearly every offensive category in Conference USA. The Tigers are first in the league in hitting (.310), assists (15.00 apg) and opponent hitting (.141). Memphis is second in kills (16.22 kpg) and aces (130).
Memphis has been successful in Conference USA openers in the recent past, holding a 9-2 mark since the league's inception in 1995. The Tigers have won four-consecutive league-openers and four-straight when opening conference play on the road.
The Tigers have won 14 of the last 17 meetings against UAB dating back to the 1996 season. The two teams split last year's series, with Memphis sweeping the Blazers in the C-USA opener only to fall to UAB in five games in Birmingham just five days later. Memphis leads the all-time series 33-8.
UAB has put up impressive numbers this season, checking in with an 11-3 record. Its lone losses have been to TCU, Morehead State and Georgia. The Blazers hold a 766-569 advantage against its opponents in the kills category, and have held opposing teams to a .150 attacking clip (third in C-USA). UAB is second only to Memphis in the league in hitting percentage, with a .286 mark. Fueled by Ivana Bozic's 31 aces and Aleksandra Vujovic's 23 aces, UAB leads the league with 139 service aces.
A 2006 Preseason All C-USA selection, Bozic is the leading attacker on the Blazer offense, logging 288 points and 5.19 kills per game--both of which are good for third in the league. She also leads the squad and is fourth in C-USA with 31 aces in 47 games. Bozic leads a crew of four Blazer hitters that have recorded over 130 kills. Vujovic (3.51 kpg), Casey Dent (2.91 kpg) and Fernanda Domingos (2.85 kpg) all have 137 kills. Dent leads the way with a .371 attack percentage. Setter Nevena Stefanov has handed out 622 assists and is second behind in the league Memphis' Côté with 13.22 assists per game.
The Blazers are ninth and 11th in the conference in digs and blocks, respectively.
UAB was picked to finish 10th in C-USA's preseason poll.