Tiger Volleyball Hosts Two Conference Foes This Weekend;
Sept. 21, 2000
Memphis, Tenn. -- - The University of Memphis volleyball team (5-6) opens its conference schedule with two home matches this weekend.
The Tigers will host Marquette (1-11, 0-1) at 7 p.m., Friday, and a red-hot DePaul (8-3, 1-0) team, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Marquette is looking for freshmen to step up. Freshman setter Gemma Greer has supplanted senior Liz Egasti as the starting quarterback. Greer is averaging 11.18 assists per game, good enough for sixth in the league. Greer is also sixth in the league with 14 service aces through 33 games.
Freshman Ann Lopata is currently ranked ninth in C-USA in kills providing some much needed offense with the loss of second-team all-conference player Vesna Grbavac. Grbavac led the 1999 Eagles with 520 kills, 315 digs and 38 service aces while setting Marquette single season records in kills and hitting attempts. The outside hitter had 22 double-figure kills performances and surpassed the 20-kill mark 11 times. Lopata is currently averaging 3.98 kills per game.
The Golden Eagles defense is led by junior Mehgan Devine. Devine, who led the team in blocks last year, is again leading the Marquette blockers, averaging 0.89 block per game, tied with Memphis' Sarah Wengler. Devine is also ranked seventh in service aces with 0.42 aces a game.
The question for Memphis will be how do the Tigers come into the match after a tough 3-1 loss to Ole Miss, Saturday.
"I certainly expect us to be a team that will compete with everyone in Conference USA," Head Coach Carrie Yerty said. "During stressful times we need to focus not on just playing harder, but on playing smarter. We can't take any team lightly, because our conference has gotten so much better, but I certainly expect to be able to compete against any team in the league."
After the Marquette match, the Tigers will turn around and host DePaul, Saturday at 7 p.m.
"Against DePaul, or really anybody we play, we need to play well on our side of the net," Yerty said. "We can't worry about who is on the other side, we need to focus on our side because even with all the returners were have back this year, most of them are playing new positions."
DePaul will bring a very experienced line-up into Memphis, led by junior setter Kara Jakusz and her offensive threats, junior Stephanie Bishop and sophomore Katie Engel. Bishop leads the Blue Demon offense with 4.17 kills per game, while Engel helps DePaul along with her 4.04 kills per game. DePaul is the only team in the league with two players averaging more than 4.00 kills a game. Those types of numbers help Jakusz lead the league in assists with 13.77 per game.
But the Blue Demons, headed by the 1999 C-USA Coach of the Year, Dawn Dockstader, are also tough defensively. They are the only team in the league with three players in the conference's top 10 in digs (Bishop, Melissa Nordine and Engel) and have junior Christa Dirr ranked fourth in the conference in blocks per game (1.07). Nordine also has a tough serve, and is currently ranked second in service aces per game (0.56).
The DePaul match will be the final home match for a while for the Tigers, as they embark on a three-city, three-day road trip the following weekend.