Volleyball Travels to Marshall and East Carolina for C-USA Weekend
Oct. 5, 2006
HUNTINGTON, W.V. -
The University of Memphis volleyball team will put it league-best 16-2 overall record on the line this weekend when it travels to Marshall and East Carolina for a pair of Conference USA road battles on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Tigers will take on the reigning C-USA champion Thundering Herd at 7 p.m. CST on Friday, before squaring off with the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. CST.
Memphis improved to 3-1 behind the strength of senior libero Christen Clayton's match-high 23 digs. Clayton became Memphis' career digs leader in the match, and Shelby Burton downed 20 kills to help the Tigers overcome a two games-to-one deficit to edge UAB 3-2 in Conference USA action last Friday night. Memphis improved to 16-2 on the year with its third-straight win.
Senior Melissa Nance tied a career-high with 17 kills and seven blocks in a strong all-around performance for Memphis. Laura Côté had 49 assists and nine digs. The Tigers served up 11 aces, but also committed 16 errors from the service line. Defensively, Liford made 10 digs and Bury finished with 14.
Ranked third in the Midwest Region poll, the Tigers are 8-1 in Friday night matches. Head coach Carrie Yerty looks for her 200th career coaching win this weekend.
Marshall enters the weekend 11-8 and 3-2 in C-USA play, but that is not at all indicative of the type of offensive fire-power the Thundering Herd posseses. The Herd has played a tough schedule early on, playing the likes of Indiana, Maryland and Final Four participant Tennessee. As a team Marshall is ranked second in C-USA in kills and assists. The Herd has a 1,094-932 advantage in the kills department and posts nearly three more kills per game than its opponents. Marshall's offense is centered around Kelly-Anne Billingy, who was tabbed 2005 C-USA Player of the Year and then earned 2006 Preseason Player of the Year accolades. She leads the nation in kills per game at an astounding 6.27 clip. She has 320 kills on the year, including putting away 30 or more kills in three matches. The only player to earned C-USA Player of the Week honors twice this year, Billingy is ranked seventh in the league with a .320 attack percentage and fourth with 31 service aces. Billingy is backed by Stephanie Cahill (170 k/3.54 kpg), Uche Ndubisi (153 k/2.32 kpg) and Chelsea Lazar (150 k/2.24 kpg), who all have at least 150 kills. Lazar leads the team and is ranked sixth in the league with a .339 hitting percentage. Defensively, the Thundering Herd ranks second in the league in blocks, with 2.30 per game. Ndubisi and Lazar are ranked seventh and eighth in the league with 1.03 bpg and 1.00 bpg, respectively. Maggie Arias leads the defense with 385 digs, good for seventh in C-USA.
Memphis and Marshall have met on the volleyball hardwood just twice, with both meetings coming in the Herd's inaugural C-USA season. The series is tied 1-1. The Tigers hosted the Thundering Herd in the first-ever meeting and overcame three match-points serves by Marshall in the deciding game to claim a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Thundering Herd The Tigers, who trailed 2-1 going into the fourth game, got a team-high 21 kills from Ashley Liford, while libero Christen Clayton led all performers with 21 digs. The loss was Marshall's first league and only loss of the season. 2006 C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Kelly-Anne Billingy downed 38 kills in a loss. Marshall avenged its lone Conference USA loss with a dominant sweep of Memphis in the league finale for both teams. Memphis, who hit just .121 in the match, was led by senior Nancy Nellans' eight kills. Marshall hit .370 in the contest and was paced by Billingy's 16 kills.
ECU is 10-9 this year with a 1-4 mark in C-USA action. ECU has dropped three of its last four matches, all of which were in league play. Their lone conference win came against SMU on Sept. 29. The ECU offense is led by Mignon Dubenion, who has 248 kills (3.70 kpg) and is second in the league with a .419 attack percentage. Kelly Wernert has a team-best 274 kills (4.15 kpg), good for sixth among league players. Setter Heidi Krug leads the league with 12.94 assists per set. On the defensive side of the net, libero Trish Monroe has a team-high 238 digs, while Krug, Stephanie Turner and Wernert all average over 2.00 digs per game. Jaime Bevan and Dubenion lead the ECU blocking efforts with 61 blocks each.
Memphis leads the all-time series 7-1 after dropping its first-ever match to the Pirates in a series split last year. Ashley Liford led all players with 18 kills and Nancy Nellans recorded 16 kills and a match-high 22 digs to lead Memphis to a 3-2 win over ECU in the fi rst of two matches between the two teams last season. Other notable performers for the Tigers were Fehi Tuivai, who hammered 15 kills and four blocks. Freshman Laura Côté posted a double-double of 61 assists and 15 digs, while Melissa Nance and Colette Ramirez each downed 11 kills. The duo was solid at the net for Memphis, recording seven and six blocks, respectively. Christen Clayton added 17 digs for the Tigers. Memphis dropped a 3-1 decision to ECU in the second meeting at Minges Coliseum. Nellans posted a double-double of 17 kills and 13 digs to lead Memphis. Liford and Shelby Burton also finished with double figures in kills, with 16 and 10, respectively. Côtè posted 48 assists and added 10 digs, while Clayton led all players with 22 digs.
Following this weekend's action, the Tigers return home for a 12-day, five match homestand beginning Oct. 10 against Belmont. Memphis will take on the Briuns, followed by league matches against Tulsa (Oct. 13), SMU (Oct. 15), UCF (Oct. 20) and Southern Miss (Oct. 22). The October 13 matchup vs. Tulsa will be televised on CSTV.