Nov. 20, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -
Beth Hodge and Jennifer Eichler posted 16 kills apiece as the fifth-seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricane overcame a slow start to defeat No. 12 seed East Carolina, 3-1, Wednesday afternoon in the second match of the 2008 Conference USA Volleyball Championship in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH 2_Tulsa 3, East Carolina 1
The Pirates took the opening stanza in convincing fashion, 25-18, but the Hurricane rallied to take the next three sets, 25-22, 25-17 and 25-23. With the win, the defending C-USA Tournament champion Tulsa improves to 22-10 on the year and advance to take on fourth-seeded Houston (18-11) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 2 p.m. East Carolina, meanwhile, concludes the 2008 season 13-19.
With the match knotted at one set apiece, Tulsa appeared to take control of the contest with an eight-point victory in set No. 3 but it was the Pirates who jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in what proved to be the final set. The Golden Hurricane bounced back to tie the ballgame at 4-4, and used a 7-3 rally to take an 11-7 advantage. The lead would not hold up, however, as East Carolina fought back to tie things up at 16-all and the two teams would essentially trade the next 14 points. But with the score knotted at 23-all, but a kills by Eichler set up match point and Kelsey Hancock hammered one home to clinch the victory.
Tulsa setter Rachel Vukson led all players with a match-best 54 assists while Mallory Grove was one of three Golden Hurricane players to post double-digit dig totals with 17. Hodge tallied a double-double with 14 digs to go along with her kill total while Kelsey Wood came off the bench to tally 13. Eichler had eight block assists to lead the Hurricane effort.
ECU's Stephanie Turner and Melissa Zentner tied for team-high kill honors with 12 each while Trish Monroe led the Pirate defense with 15 digs. Bobbie Jo Stall led all players with 10 blocks (three solo, 10 assists).
TULSA HEAD COACH ED ALLEN
Overall thoughts on first-round match-up with East Carolina
"First of all, it is an unusual place to find us. This is the first year we have played in the first round of the C-USA Tournament. Our group was a little sluggish. We've had one match in a nine game span and it looks like it. It is great to get a win. We expect a much stronger defensive effort tomorrow against Houston in order to compete in that match. I hope we will make some smart decisions on the floor."
What do you expect from Houston in tomorrow's match?
"I think they are a great blocking team. They are a team that lives on the outside attack. A lot of the times we don't do a great job defending the left side and our ball control out of it can be suspect. We are going to have to dig some hard driven balls and we are going to have to block pretty effectively. This will be the third time we have seen Houston and they had us beat the first two times. Hopefully it will be a good match."
EAST CAROLINA HEAD COACH CHRIS RUSHING
Thoughts on the team's performance
"I think we started strong. We definitely ended strong. There were a few places in the middle that we weren't as strong, and that's why we put ourselves in this position. I thought we would get that fourth game, and going into five, anything can happen in the fifth game. I thought we played pretty well being a 12th seed, and we had a chance to knock off the five seed. I'm proud of how we fought at the end. It's just we didn't get the ball to fall our way the last couple of points."
Looking toward next season
"It looks really good for us because we have everybody back except for one (Trish Monroe), and we're going to miss her a lot. Overall we're pretty inexperienced. We're going to get in the gym this spring and summer. I think we're going to come back a little bit stronger physically and stronger mentally, and we're going to win some more of those matches."
On Trish Monroe's finishing her career with ECU
"She's had a great career. She has all the school records at ECU in digs. She's also in the top five in Conference USA in career digs. She's got the biggest heart and she fights every single day. We're going to miss her a lot. We're going to miss her leadership and her all out play every single day because she works extremely, extremely hard. She's one of the top workers I've ever coached."