Volleyball Returns Home to Face UT-Martin
Sept. 30, 2002
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis (12-4, 0-0) volleyball team will be bringing an eight-match win streak back to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse for a non-conference clash with in-state foe UT-Martin (10-3, 5-0 OVC), Tuesday. The eight-match win streak is the longest in Conference USA right now, but will get a stiff test when the Skyhawks, on an Ohio Valley Conference-best eight match win streak of their own, try to avenge a 3-0 loss in Martin last season.
The Tuesday night match will feature two teams on similar win-streaks, but with totally different make-ups. The Skyhawks are led by six seniors, including Memphis-area products setter Lindsay Vicknair (Harding) and Natalie Klevan (Germantown HS). Memphis has just one senior, Brooke Chrisman, a second-year transfer from the University of Tulsa, and two juniors, guiding a team with six freshmen on the roster.
Senior middle Rachel Ahlers leads UT-Martin and the Ohio Valley Conference with a .324 hitting percentage. Teammate Lindsey Stock, the middle hitter opposite Ahlers in the rotation, is also hitting .324 on 290 attacks for the season. Ahlers also leads the OVC in blocks per game (1.39/game).
The Tigers won a non-conference meeting at UTM 3-0 last season, but the Skyhawks were without the services of some of their starters.
"They (Memphis) played us tough last year but we were missing some starters," sixth-year head coach Chris Rushing said following UTM's 3-1 win over Eastern Illinois, Saturday. "We haven't beaten them since I have been here. They are a lot like Southeast Missouri (also an OVC school) with their hitting and Conference USA is a good volleyball conference."
The Tigers, who have not played a match since winning 3-0 at Dartmouth, Sept. 22nd, have been focusing on preparing for the UTM match and the C-USA opener against Saint Louis, Saturday, by working on incorporating their middles to do battle with the competitive pair from UTM.
"Any time you go on the road and get three wins like we did the weekend of the Boston College tournament, that's something to build on," Memphis head coach Carrie Yerty said. "But we need to get our middles more incorporated into our offense and our blocking game."
Memphis is currently led by the pair of Brittany Barnett (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) and Tiara Gilkey (St. Louis, Mo./Pattonsville). Barnett leads the team with 4.22 kills per game, while Gilkey is hitting .306 with 3.55 kills per game on 156 fewer attempts.
The Tiger serving game has also opened up some opportunities for Memphis, with Memphis leading Conference USA with 2.55 service aces per game compared to 1.19 per game for the Skyhawks.
The game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Memphis will follow up the UTM match with their Conference USA opener at home against Saint Louis, Saturday, at 2 p.m.