Volleyball Set for First C-USA Road Test at UTEP
Sept. 20, 2007
EL PASO, Texas - The University of Memphis volleyball team will hit the road for the first time in three weeks this weekend when they make the long trip to El Paso, Texas for the first match of a split week of C-USA action. The Tigers and Miners will face off at 7 p.m. on Fri., Sept. 21. Memphis will then return home to host Tulane on Sun., Sept. 23 at 1 p.m.
Memphis will take an 11-4 mark to its first C-USA road contest. The Tigers are on a roll, having won five straight and 10 of its last 11. Memphis claimed a sweep of UAB in the 2006 title rematch last Thursday.
As a team, Memphis leads Conference USA with a .264 attack percentage, 840 kills and 756 assists. Much of that comes from the arm of Shelby Burton. The Tiger middle blocker leads the team, ranks second in the league and eighth in the country with a powerful .448 percentage. She garnered MOP honors last weekend after guiding Memphis to a sweep of the Tiger Invitational. Burton, who also has a Tiger-best 24 aces, has gotten solid support from fellow senior Ashley Liford. Liford leads the squad with eight double-doubles and has hammered down 183 kills--second only to Burton. Liford has been a steady option for the Tigers over the last five matches, hitting .363 from the outside. She is backed by junior Sarah Bury. After a tough stretch in weeks two and three, Bury has resurged as one of Memphis' best attackers. She has 142 kills, with nearly half of those coming over the last five outings. The Tiger's offensive efficiency can be attributed to the guidance of setter Laura Côté. The current Setter of the Week and league assists leader, Côté has set 671 assists to go with 112 digs.
Defensively, Burton is the league's top blocker, making 71 total blocks (1.37 blocks per game). C-USA's second best blocking team, Memphis has also gotten 44 blocks from Bury and 32 from freshman standout Kelsey Labrum. The Tiger backrow has recorded 841 digs. Freshman libero Christine Bach has a team-best 175 (4.07 d/g). Liford is second on the team with 157 digs and freshman defensive specialist and libero, Becky Shaffer has 132.
UTEP takes a 6-6 mark into its second C-USA match of the year. The Miners opened the year 6-1, including winning each of its first three contests. However, after a sweep of Mississippi Valley on Sept. 1, UTEP has lost six matches in a row. The Miners roster showcases nine returning letterwinners that includes five starters and its libero. The Miners dropped a 3-1 decision to Tulane in their C-USA opener on Sept. 12.
Sophomore Amy Sanders is UTEP's No. 1 attacking option. She has received the most sets at 448, and posted a team-best 149 kills (3.47 k/g). Catherine Chavez ranks second on the squad with 121 kills. Keisha Hyman-Gifth, who led the team in kills and attack percentage a year ago, again is the team's most efficient attacker, checking in with a .373 percentage. Freshman setter Patty Jarmoc runs the offense and has set 417 assists. UTEP hits .215 as a team. UTEP ranks third in the league with 93 service aces. Sanders leads the team, and is third among C-USA players with 26 aces.
On the defensive side of the net, UTEP has gotten 3.70 digs per game from libero Elsa Reyes. Chavez (142), Sanders (117) and Christie Murphy (103) all have logged over 100 digs. The Miner block has been solid behind the lead of Jarmoc's 33 rejects. Aidan Mooney has a team-high 1.00 blocks per set for the UTEP defense that has held opposing hitters to a combined .163 average and just over 10 kills per game.
Memphis is 3-1 all-time against UTEP. The Tigers swept the season series in 2007 with a sweep in El Paso and a 3-1 win in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Championships.
Picked to finish second in the league's preseason poll, Tulane has lived up to its billing early in the year as they boast a stout 11-3 record. The Green Wave ousted UTEP in four, last week to open its C-USA schedule on a positive note. Winners of four of its last five matches, Tulane opened the year by winning its first seven outings to claim titles at the All State Sugar Bowl Classic and Domino's Invitational.
Preseason All-C-USA selection Sara Radosevic is the Green Wave's top attacking choice as she leads the team with 4.08 kills per game. Radosevic and teammate Ksenija Vlaskovic, who hauled in C-USA Freshman of the Year honors last year, rank eighth and ninth, respectively in C-USA in kills. Radosevic's arsenal contains more than just swings as she also is the league's toughest server with a conference-best 35 aces--(.73 sa/g). She ranks 15th in the country in service aces. Jen Linder is Conference USA's most efficient hitter, checking in with a .486 percentage. She has 103 kills on 177 swings. Tulane ranks second in the conference--behind Memphis--in hitting, kills and assists.
Reigning Libero of the Week and preseason pick Jenn Miller leads the team and league in digs, picking up 241 on the year. Miller pulled out 31 digs, her second 30-dig match in the last four contests, against FAMU. She averages a strong 5.02 digs per period. Radosevic, who leads the team with four double-double performances, is second on the team with 142 digs. Linder is the team leader in blocks, with 47.
The Tigers lead the all-time series with the Green Wave, 19-14. Memphis has won each of the last five meetings dating back to the 2003 season.
In the last meeting, Memphis used a strong blocking presence and got 20 kills from Sarah Bury to lead all players as the Tigers improved to 23-5 with a 3-1 win over Tulane. Laura Côté dished out 52 assists offensively, while Christen Clayton made 24 digs and Melissa Nance made a career-high 10 blocks.
Memphis had four players record 10 or more kills, led by Bury's 20. Shelby Burton and Ashley Liford downed 12 kills, while Nance finished with 11 kills. Memphis made a season-high 18 blocks. Colette Ramirez and Burton made six blocks, and Côté and Liford each had five rejects. For the match, Memphis recorded 30 block assists.