TULSA WINS C-USA TITLE WITH 3-1 VICTORY OVER RICE
Nov. 9, 2012
TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa volleyball squad claimed its third straight Conference USA regular season championship with a 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-12, 25-19) victory over Rice on Friday, November 9, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
The Golden Hurricane (20-9, 13-2 Conference USA) earned the number one seed in next week's C-USA Tournament. TU will play in the noon game on Friday, November 16, at the Reynolds Center against the eighth-seeded team in the tournament. The title also marked Tulsa's fourth C-USA regular season crown in the eight years it has been in the league.
"Not too many teams have won three in a row," commented Head Coach Steven McRoberts. "It puts them in an elite group. I told the seniors after the match they are leaving a legacy. Our juniors will have a chance to win a fourth one next year. It is a small percentage of student athletes that leave with three rings."
Senior Tyler Henderson paced the TU offense with 19 kills, and hit .279 during the match.
Junior outside hitter Kellie Culbertson tallied 13 kills and 14 digs to register her 14th double-double of the season. Senior outside hitter Diana Silva collected 12 kills and 13 digs to earn her 10th double-double this year.
Senior libero Jessica Adams led the way with 26 digs and paced the team with three service aces.
TU hit .250 (58-16-168) while holding Rice (18-11, 11-4 C-USA) to a .188 attack clip (53-24-154). The Owls collected 85 digs compared to Tulsa's 72, but the Hurricane out-blocked Rice 11-7 and posted 54 assists compared to Rice's 52.
"Rice has a very good team," McRoberts said. "I felt like we did a great job defensively against them and I am very proud. It was a full team effort. We had a lot of players step up and do their part. I'm very proud of the fact these seniors are leaving with three rings from The University of Tulsa."
Freshman middle blocker Ashley Hooper tallied a game-high six blocks, while senior setter Jordan Clampitt recorded 29 assists.
Henderson picked up eight of her kills in the opening set, hitting .462 along the way. Culbertson had four kills with no errors, and Adams tallied six digs in the frame. The Hurricane broke an 8-8 tie with a 6-1 run to move ahead, 14-9. The Owls pulled as close as two points, but TU held on to the lead and won the set, 25-22.
Silva hit .429 in the second set with six kills and no errors, while Culbertson tallied five digs. Rice took the lead at 13-12, and held on to the advantage for the rest of the set, winning 25-19.
The Golden Hurricane dominated the third set, winning 25-12. TU hit .316 and converted 92 percent of its sideout opportunities, while holding Rice to .032 hitting. Adams tallied seven digs, and four players had at least three kills in the set.
Adams picked up 10 digs, and Culbertson and Henderson each had four kills in the final frame as Tulsa held off Rice to seal the match with a 25-19 win. The Hurricane took a 10-5 lead, but the Owls closed to 13-12, and kept the set close. With TU leading, 20-17, Rice score twice, but Tulsa got kills from Henderson and Boatwright to fuel a 5-0 run, punctuated by a service ace from Bailey Clampitt, to close out the set.
The Golden Hurricane closes out the regular season at 1 p.m. Sunday against Houston at the Reynolds Center. TU will honor its seniors in a ceremony prior to the match.
"We have to get over this pretty fast," McRoberts said. "We talked about celebrating this tonight, but coming to practice tomorrow to get ready for Houston. No one wants to go into the tournament with a loss. I think it will help us gain a little bit more momentum if we can come out and play this way on our home floor on Sunday, knowing that next week on Friday, and hopefully Saturday and Sunday, that we are playing on this floor for another tournament championship."
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