Volleyball Looks to Strengthen Post-Season Position with Pair of Road Matches
Oct. 25, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball team will begin a four-match road trip this weekend with a pair of contests at Southern Miss and UCF on Friday, Oct. 26, and Sunday, Oct. 28, respectively. With the regular season winding down, and the race for a top-four finish heading into the C-USA Championships tightens, this weekend could prove to be an important one for the Tigers.
Memphis will battle Southern Miss at 7 p.m. on Friday, looking to post a season sweep against the Golden Eagles and extend its win streak over USM to seven matches. In the year's first meeting between the two teams, Ashley Liford slammed down 19 kills and hit .400 for the Memphis offense, but it was the Tiger defense that shined making 11 blocks, while the backrow had six players record 10 or more digs en route 3-1 win over Southern Miss.
Since then, the Tigers have gone 4-2 as their play has improved with Sarah Bury's resurgence from the outside, Rebekah Strickland emerging as a solid middle hitter and strong back line play from libero Christine Bach. In those six matches, Bury is hitting .320, averaging over 4.2 kills and nearly 3.0 digs per frame. Strickland has complimented middle blocker Shelby Burton with a .319 attack percentage and 21 blocks. She has totaled 1.05 blocks per game over the last five outings. Bach, who leads the team in digs, has picked up the pace as of late. The redshirt freshman has a 4.46 digs per game average in the last six contests. She posted a career-high 25 digs in the win over Houston last weekend.
Overall, Memphis's offense is led by senior outside hitter Ashley Liford. With 372 kills on the year, the San Antonio, native is closing in on a season career-high. Burton anchors the inside for Memphis with a team-leading .390 attack percentage and 143 total blocks--a total good for fourth on the UofM's single-season list.
At 10-16 overall, USM brings a 1-10 league mark into the weekend. The Golden Eagles lone win came in a five-game match against ECU a match before they played the Tigers on Oct. 5. The Memphis loss ignited the current string of six straight setbacks for Southern Miss.
USM is paced by Morgan Johnson's 279 kills (3.10 k/g), .239 hitting percentage and 88 blocks. Setter Jillian Neave has set a team-best 818 assists. Ashley Petrinic checks in with 246 kills and 248 digs. Maia Ivanova has recorded a team-best 32 aces and 380 digs (4.22 d/g).
Memphis will take on a struggling UCF team at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday. The Knights are 9-16 overall and 0-10 in C-USA play. They have dropped four straight and 10 of the last 11 contests.