Gilkey Leads Volleyball Into St. Louis for C-USA Opener, Friday
Oct. 2, 2003
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Junior outside hitter Tiara Gilkey (Creve Coeur, Mo./Pattonsville) returns to her home stomping grounds for the Memphis volleyball team's Conference USA opener at Saint Louis, Friday, at 7 p.m. The Tigers, currently 15-1 on the season and on a 12-match winning streak, will face Saint Louis, also opening their C-USA schedule.
Gilkey, who played club volleyball for the St. Louis Elite, comes back to her hometown as one of Conference USA's top hitters. The 5-10 hitter ranks fifth in the league in kills with 4.12 per game and is among the league's top 10 in points (7th with 4.61/game). Always an outstanding hitter, Gilkey has also stepped up her defense this season, and is currently leading Memphis with 3.05 digs per game.
Gilkey came to Memphis just months after having off-season knee surgery. Wearing a brace, the Pattonsville High School graduate played in just 36 games for the Tigers after rehabilitating her knee during the early part of the season, downing 43 kills.
As a sophomore, Gilkey emerged as the offensive weapon that Tiger Head Coach Carrie Yerty envisioned when she recruited the then-middle hitter. The decision was made to move Gilkey to the outside to give her more swings at the ball, and Gilkey, while struggling with consistency, responded with 426 kills and a .236 attack percentage as a sophomore, the 11th-best single season kill mark in school history.
While Gilkey is now leading the Tigers with her 247 kills, she is one of a trio of Memphis players that are averaging over three kills an outing. Memphis currently ranks third in C-USA with a .264 attack percentage and second with 16.37 kills per game. With five legitimate hitters and some depth off the bench, Yerty and the Tigers are anxious to get into Conference USA play after being picked to finish 12th out of the 14-team league in a pre-season poll of league coaches.
"You kind of take those polls in stride," Yerty said. "No one knows for sure what types of players everyone else has recruited and how well they're all going to fit together, but we definitely think we can finish higher than where we were picked."
But Saint Louis, guided by Marilyn Nolen, who ranks third on the list of active coaches in career wins, is a team that has gotten the better of the Tigers during Yerty's time in Memphis. Yerty is just 1-8 against the Billikens, and Memphis is just 1-1 against Saint Louis in C-USA openers.
The Billikens come into the C-USA opener off a 3-0 sweep of UT-Martin, a team that took Memphis to five games twice already this season before falling.