Oct. 16, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -
The University of Memphis volleyball squad will begin a six-match homestand on Fri., Oct. 17, when it hosts the SMU Mustangs at 7 p.m. The Tigers will then play Tulsa on Sun., Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. Sunday's match will be televised on CBS-College Sports.
Memphis is 12-9 on the year and 3-4 in C-USA action. The Tigers are in the midst of a three-match losing skid, but welcome the opportunity to return to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse to begin a six-match home stand.
The Tigers defense has been the team's strength in 2008. Memphis leads the league with 2.82 blocks per game and holds opponents to .147 hitting--second in C-USA. Emily Underwood leads the charge and is the nation's top blocker for the fifth-straight week. Underwood records 1.65 blocks per set and is tied for seventh on Memphis single-season total blocks log. Her 118 block assists is sixth on the Tigers all-time single-seaosn list. Libero Christine Bach anchors the back row and ranks second in C-USA with 4.44 digs per game. She leads all league players with 364 digs.
Laura Côté quarterbacks the offense and is 74 assists shy of becoming the program's all-time assists leader. Côté averages 10 assists per set. Rebekah Strickland, Katlin Inglish and Lauren Thompson are her main setting options. Inglish leads the team with 206 kills, while Strickland is close behind with 200. Strickland has been the most efficient attacker for the Tigers this year, checking in with a .283 percentage.
Scouting the SMU Mustangs
Led by its coach of 13 seasons, Lisa Seifert, SMU brings an 11-10 overall mark into the weekend. The Mustangs' 3-4 record in league play is tied for seventh with Memphis and Southern Miss. SMU has won two of its last three, including a split in league action last weekend versus UTEP (W, 3-2) and Tulane (L, 0-3).
The Mustangs excel defensively, ranking second in the league with 15.63 digs per set and fourth in blocking with 2.10 rejections per frame. Freshman libero Sidney Stewart leads the defensive stand, logging 4.03 digs per set--good for fourth in C-USA. Meanwhile, middle blocker Kendra Kahanek is tied for second in the conference with 1.21 blocks per set and 94 total blocks. Freshman Dana Powell and sophomore Kathryn Wilkerson pick up 3.14 and 3.05 digs per game for the Mustangs.
Offensively, SMU hits just .200 as a team and is led by Wilkerson's 251 kills (3.18/set). She again teams with Powell, this time as the team's top attacking options. Powell ranks second on the squad with 214 kills. Kahanek leads the team in hitting efficiency, checking in with a .270 average and 148 kills.
All-time Series vs. SMU
Memphis and SMU have only met on the volleyball hardwood three times. Memphis holds a 2-1 advantage and has claimed 3-1 victories in each of the last two meetings-in 2006 and 2007. The Mustangs defeated the Tigers 3-0 in the first contests in 2005. The Tigers are 1-0 in matches played in Memphis.
Reigning C-USA Tournament champions, Tulsa used a 10-match win streak to post a league-best 17 wins against just five losses. The Golden Hurricane is fifth in the C-USA standings at 4-3 after splitting contests at UTEP and Tulane last weekend.
Tulsa returns a solid core of attackers, led by Hannah Stout, Jennifer Eichler and Beth Hodge. Stout leads the team and ranks 10th in C-USA with a .294 attack percentage to go with 178 kills. Hodge's 3.29 kills per set is tops on the team, as is Eichler's 268 terminations. Setter Rachel Vukson registers 10.02 assists per frame.
On the defensive side of the net, libero Malorey Grove and middle blocker Julie Kenealy lead the charge. Grove has picked up 300 digs and rates as the league's seventh-best backrow defender with 3.49 digs per set. Kenealy is fifth in the conference with 1.05 blocks per game.
All-time Series vs. Tulsa
In a series that began in the 1983 season, Memphis holds an 8-4 advantage over Tulsa. However, since the Golden Hurricane became a member of Conference USA, they have won three of the four matches between the two institutions. Memphis won seven of the first eight meetings, including five straight from 1986-98. The last time the two met in Memphis, Tulsa came in as C-USA's No. 1 team. In front of a national audience on CSTV, the Tigers squeaked out a thrilling 3-2 win over the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa exacted its revenge in the 2007 Conference USA tournament, ending Memphis's season with a 3-0 decision.