Battle for First-Round Bye in C-USA Tournament Moves to Elma Roane Fieldhouse
Nov. 13, 2003
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The battle in Conference USA for a first-round bye in the upcoming C-USA Championships will move to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse for the final weekend of regular season league play, starting Friday against Southern Miss.
The Tigers, who are currently tied with Tulane, their Saturday night opponent, for the fourth and final slot that receives a first-round bye, will be hoping to have some home court magic in store for the weekend.
"We always play well at home," Tiger Head Coach Carrie Yerty said. "Both of these matches will be tough, but we're glad to be at home for them instead of being on the road."
Memphis will open against a Southern Miss team that is also setting some team records. The Golden Eagles, at 25-5, are just two wins shy of a school record in wins and have already set a new school mark for winning percentage (.833). Led by three seniors who are each averaging four or more kills per game, the Golden Eagles have played just eight of their 10 players off the roster, so USM will bring a well-conditioned team into the Fieldhouse ready to do battle if needed.
The Tigers will also be using this weekend as Senior Weekend. Saturday night's match against Tulane will feature pre-game festivities for seniors Shella Neba (Aurora, Colo./St. Mary's) and Brittany Barnett (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands).
"Brittany and Shella have really been a foundation for the growth of this program and have developed into outstanding leaders and players," Yerty said.
"Shella has really stepped up her consistency as a senior, which is evident in her blocking stats and attack percentage. She is a great role model, an outstanding student and has dedicated herself to being a student-athlete in its entirety, including community service and athletic responsibilities."
Neba, who was also named to the Co-SIDA Academic All-Region Third Team Thursday, has ranked among the top 10 in Conference USA in attack percentage all year and recently moved into the top 10 in the league in blocking as well. After receiving her first collegiate all-tournament honor in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse earlier this year, the senior will be looking to continue her aggressive blocking game after setting a new school single match record with six block solos at Charlotte in a 3-2 victory last weekend.
"I am very proud of Shella's progress as an athlete," Yerty said. "She is heading off to law school and will be an outstanding member of whatever community she asserts herself into."
Neba will be joined in senior night festivities by Barnett. Already fourth in career history in kills with 1,272, Barnett has already secured a place in the Tiger record books as one of the best all-around players to wear the Tiger blue.
"It will be really difficult for us to replace Brittany's work ethic and leadership," Yerty said. "I've relied on her for the last three years to be one of our go-to players on the court as well as a good role model off the court. I am very proud of her progress. This year she has developed into one of the best all-around players in our conference and will definitely leave a mark on Memphis history as one of our best all-around players."
Barnett passed both the 1,000 career kill and dig marks earlier this season, and is currently 10th in career history with 1,125 digs. Her 443 kills already this season is the 9th-best single season kill total in school history, and when balanced against the 463 kills brought to the table by junior outside Tiara Gilkey, has given Memphis a much more balanced offense than it has had in previous years.
Barnett is set to graduate in May with a degree in Hospitality and Resort Management, but still has volleyball plans for her post-college career, as she plans on starting her own coaching career in a club program.