Volleyball Takes No. 6 Seed into C-USA Championships
Nov. 16, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -
The University of Memphis volleyball team wrapped up its regular season with an even 8-8 mark in C-USA play to finish sixth in the league standings. As the No. 6 seed, the U of M will host No. 11 UTEP in the final match of Thursday's first-round action in the 2008 Conference USA Championships to be held at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, Nov. 20-23. First serve is slated for 7 p.m.
This year marks the first time Memphis has hosted a volleyball conference championship since the 1991 Great Midwest Conference volleyball tournament. The Tigers went 2-1 and finished third in that field.
The Tigers, who have lost three-straight league contests, will take their lowest seed into tournament play since going into the 2005 tournament as the No. 8 seed. Memphis looked poised to earn a first-round bye, but came up empty in two matches in Houston--versus Houston and Rice--to fall to sixth place. Despite Sunday's loss to UAB, the 17-13 Tigers were able to maintain a hold on that position. Memphis went 6-3 at home against C-USA foes during regular season play and currently ranks ninth in the nation in blocks (2.78) per set.
The 2008 finish is the second time Memphis has earned a sixth seed, with the only other time coming in 1995. The Tigers defeated No. 11 DePaul in three, but were bounced from competition the next night via a 3-1 loss to Saint Louis. Memphis is 11-13 all-time in C-USA tournament action, including holding an 8-4 tournament record against six of the 12 participating teams. The Tigers, who have claimed two victories in three of the last five tournaments, advanced to the title match in 2006.
First-round foe, UTEP brings a 7-23 overall record and a 3-13 mark into the tournament. The Miners have lost 13 of their last 15 matches, including dropping a 3-1 contest to the Tigers in Memphis on Oct. 5.
Memphis improved to 5-1 all-time against UTEP with its four-set triumph over the Miners in early October. The U of M is 2-1 versus UTEP in Memphis, with its lone loss coming in 2005. Since then, the Tigers have won four-straight against UTEP. The only time the two institutions met in C-USA tournament play was in 2006 when Memphis faced an upset-minded UTEP squad in the semifinals of the C-USA Championships in Houston. The Tigers rode Shelby Burton's 23 kills, .579 hitting percentage and five blocks to a 3-1 win over the Miners to advance to the semifinals of the C-USA Championships. Laura Côté handed out 60 assists, while Sarah Bury (15 kills, 11 digs and four service aces) and Ashley Liford (12 kills, 15 digs) both finished the night with double-doubles.
A first-round victory would set up a rematch of last Sunday's tilt versus No. 3 Rice. The Owls, who clinched their first-ever first-round pass, came from behind to take a 30-28 win from the Tigers in the first game of the match, and Memphis never recovered in a three-set loss in Houston just a week ago. Rice (21-6, 12-4 C-USA) had its five-match winning streak snapped in their last regular season contest against Houston. However, Rice enters championship week as the highest ranked C-USA team in the nation in assists (13.56/seventh) and kills (14.53/eighth) per set.
Along with Rice, top-seed Tulane, UAB and Houston each earned first-round byes in the 12-team, four-day C-USA Volleyball Championship. Opening C-USA Championship action will be seeds five through 12.
No. 1 Tulane (24-5, 15-1 C-USA) clinched its first C-USA regular season title Friday with a three-set victory at UTEP (7-23, 3-13 C-USA). The Green Wave enters championship week winners of 13-straight and owners of 24 overall wins, the third most in program history. Tulane's 28 victories a year ago stands as a Green Wave all-time best. Tulane has never made it past the semifinals, but seven previous regular season champions have gone on to claim the tournament title and earn the league's NCAA automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
No. 2 seed UAB has won 18 of its last 20 matches, including 16-straight at one point in the season. The Blazers (23-5, 13-3 C-USA) have appeared in the last two C-USA Championship matches, winning the title in 2006. That same season, UAB became the lowest seed (No. 5) since 2001 to win the championship trophy.
The Cougars, who have won four-straight, are coming off a 3-0 victory over Rice. This is Houston's (18-11, 10-6 C-USA) seventh tournament earning a first-round bye. They have advanced to the championship title match three times, winning the trophy in 2005.
First round play begins with No. 8 seed SMU (14-16, 6-10 C-USA) taking on No. 9 seed UCF (14-16, 6-10 C-USA) in the opener at Noon, followed by defending tournament champion Tulsa (21-10, 8-8 C-USA) as the No. 5 seed battling No. 12 seed East Carolina (13-18, 3-13 C-USA) in the early session on Thursday.
In addition to Memphis's match versus UTEP, the opening night session highlights No. 7 seed Southern Miss (17-12, 7-9 C-USA) taking on No. 10 seed Marshall (12-14, 5-11 C-USA), the 2007 C-USA regular season champion, at 5 p.m.
Neutral court action has served Tulsa, Marshall and Rice quite well this season as they are undefeated when playing at a neutral site. The Golden Hurricane and Thundering Herd are 5-0, while the Owls are 4-0.
The Championship concludes on Sunday, Nov. 23 with the title match televised live on CBS College Sports at 2 p.m. CT. Calling the action will be Jason Knapp, while Ann Marie Anderson will serve as the color commentary.
Volleyball fans can also catch earlier tournament action via video streaming at www.conferenceusa.com. These games are included in each school's respective monthly and/or annual All-Access subscription as well as in CBS College Sports XXL subscription. Non-subscribers are recommended to purchase the school's monthly All-Access package (for November) for $9.95 to get games. The Championship game is included in the school's annual All-Access subscription, CBS College Sports XXL subscription and/or as a PPV. The Championship game will NOT be included in the monthly All-Access subscription. The championship game is available via pay-per-view for $7.95.
2008 C-USA VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST ROUNDS Thursday, Nov. 20 (8) SMU vs. (9) UCF 12 p.m. (5) Tulsa vs. (12) East Carolina 2 p.m. (7) Southern Miss vs. (10) Marshall 5 p.m. (6) Memphis vs. (11) UTEP 7 p.m.