Volleyball Set for Tough C-USA Weekend at UTEP and Tulane
Oct. 27, 2006
EL PASO, Texas - After a long day of travel yesterday, the University of Memphis volleyball squad will jump back into Conference USA action with a 7 p.m. matchup versus UTEP tonight. The Tigers will then travel to New Orleans where they will take on Tulane on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Memphis enters the weekend as one of a handful of team in the country to have 20 or more wins. Ranked third in the C-USA standings, the Tigers have struggled on the road and look to improve on its 3-4 road mark. The U of M dropped a hard-fought 3-1 match at Ole Miss in its last contest on Tuesday evening.
The Tigers are led by Shelby Burton and Laura Côté, who lead the conference in hitting and assists, respectively. Burton's .416 attack percentage ranks among the top-15 in the country. She also leads the team in kills (379), blocks (114) and service aces (58). She most recently entered the program's top-10 in career blocks with 262 rejects in two-plus seasons. Her 379 kills is a career-high and just 48 kills off of her career total before the season began. Côté took over the league's top spot in assists with a solid performance at Ole Miss. She has 1,217 assists on the year and ranks fifth all-time at Memphis with 2,668 career assists. Sophomore Sarah Bury continues to produce big numbers, checking with 315 kills. Senior Colette Ramirez has come on strong over the last four matches. She slammed 16 kills at Ole Miss--a career-high as a Tiger--and is hitting .338 with a pair of matches with 10 or more kills, since the Tigers sweep of SMU two weeks ago. Senior Melissa Nance and junior Ashley Liford are both looking to make history at Memphis as both are on track to reach the 1,000-kills mark before the season's end. Nance has 957 kills, while Liford has downed 954. With 283 kills on the year, Liford looks to reach 300 kills for the third consecutive season. She would be just the seventh Tiger spiker to ever accomplish that feat.
Defensively, Burton, Côté and Nance have put up a strong block, while senior libero Christen Clayton holds down the back line. Clayton broke the Tigers' single-season digs mark with 29 digs at Ole Miss. The previous record was 466, which she posted last season. She now has 469 digs this year and 1,640 for her career.
UTEP comes in with a 5-19 record and is winless in nine home matches. The Miners have come up short in nine-straight contests, are just 1-9 in C-USA play. Their one league win--and last win--came in a sweep of East Carolina in Greenville, N.C. on September 24. UTEP got off to a slow start, losing its first six matches. The Miners are led by Christie Murphy's 263 kills. Casey McAnelly leads the squad with 3.01 kills per game, while Keisha Hyman-Gifth leads the team in hitting with a .311 percentage. UTEP hits just .154 as a team. The Miners average over 18 digs per game, led by Elsa Reyes' 487 digs. Four other Miners defenders are averaging over 2.00 digs per set.
Memphis and UTEP are tied 1-1 in the all-time series after the Miners swept the Tigers in Memphis last year.
At 11-8 overall and 7-3 in C-USA action, the Green Wave boasts one of the league's top team's. Tulane has won eight of its last nine home contests.
Tulane's offense revolves around sophomore Sara Radosevic, who's 5.27 kills per game, ranks ninth in Division I. The outside hitter has 316 kills in 60 games and is second in C-USA behind Marshall's Kelly-Anne Billingy, who leads the country. She is also 10th in the NCAA and first in C-USA with 0.65 service aces per game. Tulane has also gotten solid production from its middle blockers. Sophomore Lauren Boatwright (85 kills) is hitting .357, while fellow-sophomore Jen Linder (134 kills) is hitting .409. Linder ranks second C-USA in hitting percentage. The Green Wave rank second in C-USA in assists (14.75) and fourth in kills (15.68).
Defensively, freshman libero Jenn Miller leads C-USA in digs with 5.25 per game. Boatwright has 76 blocks in 68 games--good for fifth in C-USA.
Memphis leads the all-time series versus Tulane, 18-14.