C-USA Preseason Volleyball Favorite Is Tulsa

Go C-USA! Tyler Henderson, Tulsa
Tyler Henderson, Tulsa

Aug. 11, 2011

IRVING, Texas - Defending Conference USA champion Tulsa has been tabbed as the 2011 C-USA Volleyball Preseason favorites. The Golden Hurricane collected 142 points and 10 of 12 first-place preseason votes as selected by the league's 12 head coaches. The Golden Hurricane concluded last season 31-3 overall and produced a flawless league record of 20-0, becoming the first team under the current membership to go undefeated in a single season. Tulsa also established conference records for most overall and league wins, longest winning streak of 30-consecutive matches and best winning percentage of .931.

First-year head coach STEVEN MCROBERTS returns four starters plus the libero from a year ago, including C-USA Player of the Year TYLER HENDERSON as well as junior setter JORDAN CLAMPITT and junior libero JESSICA ADAMS. Henderson enters the season as the league's Preseason Player of the Year and a member of the preseason all-conference team. The junior outside hitter became the first Conference USA player to earn AVCA All-America second team honors after leading the nation in kills and points per set with averages of 6.23 and 6.67, respectively. She also is a two-time All-C-USA and AVCA Midwest Region first-team honoree. Clampitt appeared on the 2010 all-league and all-region first team after averaging an NCAA-best 13.09 assists per set.

Adams joins Henderson on the preseason list. The junior libero landed on the 2010 All-C-USA second team after producing a league-best 0.40 service aces per set average. Adams also accounted for 4.65 digs per set and was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week three times last season.

SMU tallied 125 preseason votes for second, while Houston was a close third with 122 points. Southern Miss rounds out the top four with 95. Each program also placed two student-athletes on the all-conference preseason team.

SMU established C-USA single-season records for most digs (1,443), blocks (210) and blocks assists (369) against conference opponents in 2010. Sixteenth-year head coach LISA SEIFERT welcomes one of her most experienced squads as four starters plus the libero and nine letterwinners return to the court in 2011. Last year's club established a program-best 25-6 record and finished second in the league with a 17-3 mark. The Mustangs placed five players on the All-C-USA squads a year ago and returns four of those honorees.



Leading the way for the Mustangs will be preseason honorees DANA POWELL and COURTNEY MANNING. Powell, a senior outside hitter, earned her second AVCA All-America honorable mention nod last season. She enters the 2011 campaign ranked in the Top 10 among SMU greats as she appears eighth in kills (1,164) and sixth in digs (1,169). She is the seventh Mustang to record at least 1,000 kills and digs in a career. Manning, an All-C-USA second team pick, finished last season ranked 19th in the NCAA with 1.34 blocks per set. Seifert also will look to senior teammates KELLI BECERRA and JESSICA OLIVER who were also tabbed as All-C-USA second teamers in 2010, while senior SIDNEY STEWART returns as one of the top five liberos in the league. Becerra led the team with 10.69 assists per set. Oliver, a right-side hitter, compiled 2.61 kills per set and Stewart hustled for 578 overall digs, 370 came against conference opponents, ranking as the fourth most in a C-USA single season.

Eight letterwinners and three starters return from a Houston team that finished 19-13 overall and 13-7 in C-USA action. Second-year head coach MOLLY ALVEY spent the summer honing her coaching techniques on the coaching staffs for the Bring It Promotions (BIP)/USA Development Blue Team at the China-USA Challenge Invitational in Beijing, China (June 7-20) and the A2 Junior National Team that competed at the European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia (July 12-23).

The Cougars will depend on redshirt senior veteran and All-C-USA preseason selections LUCY CHARUK and CHANDACE TRYON to guide a young Cougar squad in 2011. Charuk spent the summer training and competing for the Canadian Senior National Team in Winnipeg. The middle blocker led Houston with 361 kills, 148 blocks and was second with a .348 hitting percentage. She also ranked second in the league in blocks per set (1.26), third in hitting percentage, seventh in points per set (4.04) and 11th in kills per set (3.09). After earning AVCA Midwest All-Region and All-C-USA first team honors, she collected her second AVCA All-America honorable mention accolade after earning the award in 2008. Tryon also earned all-league first team honors after leading the league with a .353 hitting efficiency. The junior middle blocker landed 285 kills in 629 attempts with only 63 errors on the season. She ranked in the league's top 20 for kills (2.61) and points (3.06) per set.

Southern Miss has continued its climb upward as the Golden Eagles have gone from a low preseason prediction in 2008 to winning the league's regular season title in 2009 and finishing fourth in 2010. Second-year head coach ABBEY SUTHERLAND returns six starters and nine of the top 10 players that produced a 19-12 overall record and went 12-8 in league play a year ago. Guiding the club in their final collegiate season will be All-C-USA first teamers and All-C-USA preseason picks KELSEA SEYMOUR and ASHLEY MELL.

The senior duo earned AVCA All-Midwest Region first team honors and concluded the 2010 season with honorable mention AVCA All-America accolades. Seymour dished out 1,272 assists, for a 10.79 per set average, and had 286 digs. Mell ranked second in the conference and 13th nationally in points and kills per set with respective averages of 5.03 pps and 4.41 kps.

The Green Wave was selected to finish fifth and will be led by redshirt junior IZABELA GROT who earned her first all-conference preseason honor. Grot is one of nine letterwinners returning for third-year head coach SINISA MOMIC. She concluded the 2010 season as the team's top offensive threat with a 3.24 kills per set average, 10th best in the league, and ranked 16th in hitting percentage with a .271.

Rice, UAB and UCF are slated to finish a respective No. 6 through No. 8 in the league standings.

Also earning All-C-USA Preseason honors was Rice's NANCY COLE and SAM SERLEY of UAB. Both appeared on the All-C-USA second team in 2010 as well as the AVCA All-America honorable mention list and the All-Midwest Region squad. Cole, a junior middle blocker, led the Owls with 373 kills, .321 hitting percentage, which ranked ninth in the league, and 106 blocks. Serley finished last year as UAB's leader in attack percentage with a .318, blocks per set at 1.08 and kills with 333, ranking in the top 12 in C-USA in all three categories.

Rounding out the 2011 C-USA Preseason Poll is Memphis, Marshall, UTEP and East Carolina.

In addition, outside hitter ALTRESE HAWKINS of Memphis concludes the 12-member preseason all-conference team. The Schaumburg, Ill., native was named to the all-conference first team, All-Midwest Region and the AVCA All-America honorable mention teams in 2010 after ranking in the league's top 10 with 483 kills, 3.96 kills per set, 525 points and 4.30 points per set. She also was 12th in the league with a team-best .305 attack percentage. The two-time C-USA Offensive Player of the Week ranked 40th nationally in kills and 66th in points per set a year ago.

All 12 Conference USA volleyball programs open the season at various tournaments the weekend of August 26-27.

1. Tulsa (10)
2. SMU (1)
3. Houston (1)
4. Southern Miss
5. Tulane
6. Rice
7. UAB
8. UCF
9. Memphis
10. Marshall
11. UTEP
12. East Carolina

(#) First Place Votes in Parenthesis

Student-Athlete, School - [Pos./Ht./Cl.] - Hometown
Lucy Charuk, Houston - [MB/6-2/RS Sr.] - Tswwassen, British Columbia
Chandace Tryon, Houston - [MB/6-0/Jr.] - Corpus Christi, Texas
Altrese Hawkins, Memphis - [OH/5-10/RS Jr.] - Schaumburg, Ill.
Nancy Cole, Rice - [MB/6-3/Jr.] - Pasadena, Texas
Courtney Manning , SMU - [MB/6-0/Jr.] - Mesquite, Texas
Dana Powell, SMU - [OH/5-10/Sr.] - Tulsa, Okla.
Ashley Mell, Southern Miss - [OH/6-3/RS Sr.] - Yorba Linda, Calif.
Kelsea Seymour, Southern Miss - [S/5-9/Sr.] - Long Beach, Calif.
Izabela Grot, Tulane - [RS/OH/6-2/RS Jr.] - Krakow, Poland
Jessica Adamsm Tulsa - [DS/L/5-7/Jr.] - Oklahoma City, Okla.
*Tyler Henderson, Tulsa - [OH/5-10/Jr.] - Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sam Serley , UAB - [MB/6-2/Jr.] - Nashville, Tenn.

* denotes C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.

NOTE: Due to a tie for the final spot, this year's preseason team is 12 members instead of 11.

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