Tiger Volleyball Wraps up Homestand with Pair of C-USA Matches this Weekend
Oct. 19, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball squad looks to extend its home win streak when it hosts UCF and Southern Miss in a pair of Conference USA weekend contests. Memphis, who is 12-1 at home this year, will host the Golden Knights at 7 p.m. on Friday, and the Golden Eagles on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Tigers enter the weekend with a 19-4 overall record and the country's 23rd highest winning percentage. Three of Memphis' four losses have come in league play, sitting the Tigers in fifth-place in the current C-USA standings. Memphis has won its last two conference matches, outlasting Tulsa last Friday, before taking SMU in four on Sunday to stretch its home win streak to 11 matches.
Memphis is led offensively by junior middle blocker Shelby Burton. Burton, who has led the team and Conference USA in hitting all year, is ranked 11th nationally with a .424 hitting average and 12th with 55 service aces. She is also ranked in the league's top-10 with 338 kills (4.02 kpg) and 84 blocks. Burton is backed by senior middle hitter Melissa Nance, who checks in with the league's eighth-highest hitting percentage at .318. Sarah Bury and Ashley Liford both have downed over 200 kills for Memphis this year. Bury, who was tabbed the C-USA Hitter of the Week on Monday, is second on the team with 283 kills after recording just 22 kills as a freshman last year. Liford, who has 248 kills, is less than 100 kills shy of reaching the 1,000-kill mark as a junior. Liford has served up a career-high 35 aces--good for ninth in C-USA. The league's top-hitting offense is run by setter Laura Côté. The sophomore setter has eclipsed 1,000 assists for the second consecutive season and ranks second in the league with 12.64 assists per contest. Current C-USA Defensive Player of the Week, Christen Clayton anchors the defense with a team-high 414 digs. With nine matches remaining in the regular season, Clayton in on pace to surpass the Tiger's single-season digs mark of 466--a record she set last season.
Picked to finish ninth in the C-USA preseason poll-just one spot below the Tigers--UCF enters the weekend on a seven-match losing streak. The Golden Knights, who are currently ranked 11th in the league standings, have struggled to a 5-14 mark this season, including posting just one win in eight Conference USA matches. That lone win came on Sept. 15 when the Golden Knights ousted Southern Miss 3-1 in the conference opener. Since then UCF has dropped seven-straight league matches-its last seven matches. The Golden Knights have been swept in their last three league matches.
Junior outside hitter Lorin Lukas leads UCF, ranks in the top-10 in the country and second among all C-USA players in service aces. Lukas is solid all-around player, registering eight double-doubles this year. Jenny Heppert ranks eighth in aces. As a team, UCF ranks third in C-USA with 150 aces (2.14 sapg). The Golden Knights are hitting just .159 as a team, while opponents are hitting .219 against them. Jana Mitchell leads the defense with a team-best 50 blocks. She is averaging 1.19 rejects per contests, good for fourth in Conference USA.
UCF took the series advantage, 5-4, by taking two out the three matches against the Tigers. The Golden Knights ended the Tigers' season last year, knocking them off 3-1 in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament. The two schools split a pair of competitions in the regular season last year. Memphis posted a 3-1 win over UCF in Orlando before the Golden Knights outlasted the Tigers in a five-game contest in Memphis late in the season.
Southern Miss is 13-10 on the year and has won six of its last seven C-USA contests. The Golden Eagles have shocked the league's preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Marshall and Houston in five this season. Five of USM's eight conference matches have gone the distance, with the Golden Eagles coming away victorious four times. Southern Miss hits just .174 as a team, but leads the league in blocking, led by Morgan Johnson. Johnson leads the conference with 1.29 blocks per game. She is joined defensively, by the efforts of libero Maia Ivanova. Ivanova leads the team and is fifth in Conference USA with 376 digs. The Golden Eagles offense is paced by Angela Hlavaty's 235 kills, while Ashley Petrinic is second on the squad with 228.
Memphis leads the all-time series with Southern Miss 18-11. The Tigers swept last year's series and have won each of the last three contests against the Golden Eagles.