Volleyball Looks to Snap Four-Match Losing Streak at League Leaders
Oct. 18, 2002
TAMPA, Fla. - - The University of Memphis volleyball team (13-8, 0-3 C-USA) could not have asked for a more difficult opponent to be facing while trying to snap their four-match losing streak. The Tigers face league co-leader South Florida, in Tampa, Friday night at 7 p.m. (ET).
The Tiger defense will have its hands full, taking on Conference USA's most prolific offensive team as the Bulls lead the league with a .264 hitting percentage. A majority of the USF offense comes from senior Michelle Collier. Collier, who is technically in her fifth season at USF due to a medical redshirt year in 1999, leads the league with 5.46 kills per game and 0.57 service aces per game. Collier also ranks in the top 10 in the conference in digs per game (3.23) and was voted the league's pre-season player of the year by the C-USA head coaches.
USF senior setter Alessandra Domingos is also an important key to the Bulls' success so far this season, ranking third in the conference with 12.88 assists per game and setting the offense up so hitter Bonnye Glover leads the team with a .313 hitting percentage.
The Tigers will try to combat the USF offense with a more aggressive blocking game, an area of the game that has vastly improved in the past four matches. Middle hitter Shella Neba (Aurora, Colo./St. Mary's) leads the Tigers with 0.94 blocks per game after returning to the Tiger line-up following an early season back injury. Neba, who hit over .300 against Conference opponents last season, has also stepped up her offensive production, hitting 10 kills in the Tigers' 3-2 loss to TCU and back-to-back nine kill outings in the previous matches.
Fellow junior Brittany Barnett (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) is coming off a career-best 31 kill night against TCU and currently leads Memphis with 4.28 kills per game. Barnett is seventh in the league in kills per game, and spent part of the season ranked in the top 10 in service aces.
Memphis is hoping freshman Nancy Nellans (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph) continues to develop, after posting back-to-back 20+ kill nights in the Tigers' conference matches against Houston and TCU. Nellans, who is second in the league with 0.54 service aces per game, is currently third in the line-up with a 3.24 kill per game average. Her stepping-up in the line-up was especially needed last weekend, as sophomore Tiara Gilkey (St. Louis, Mo./Pattonsville) had the flu and was not at full strength.
The four-match losing streak is Memphis' longest of the season. The weekend schedule does not get any easier should the Tigers falter at South Florida, as they then board a plane and fly to Birmingham, Ala., to face the Blazers in a 7 p.m. game, Saturday.