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Volleyball Opens 2012 Campaign At Nike Invitational

Tyler Henderson returns for her senior season as the all-time career kills leader at TU.
Tyler Henderson returns for her senior season as the all-time career kills leader at TU.
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Aug. 22, 2012

Tulsa at Nike InvitationalGet Acrobat Reader

TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa Volleyball squad opens its 2012 season with a trip to Norman, Okla., to take part in the Nike Invitational hosted by the University of Oklahoma. The Golden Hurricane begins its quest for a third-straight NCAA Tournament berth with a date against Western Michigan on Friday, August 24, at the Howard McCasland Field House. TU will face I-44 rival Missouri State on Saturday, August 25 at 10 a.m., and wraps up the tournament facing host Oklahoma in a 7 p.m. affair.

TU, under the direction of second-year head coach Steven McRoberts, looks to build on their 28-7 record from a year ago and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Tulsa returns six starters and the libero, and nine letterwinners overall.

The field features three of the nine 2011 NCAA Tournament participants TU will face this year in Western Michigan, Missouri State and Oklahoma. The Broncos had a record of 24-9 last year, and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament by Washington. Missouri State is coming off of a 22-9 season last year and the Bears advanced to their seventh NCAA Tournament in the past nine years. Oklahoma posted a 21-12 record, including an 8-8 mark in the Big 12, and saw their season draw to a close against TU in the NCAA Tournament last year as the Hurricane defeated the Sooners 3-1.

Leading the way for the Hurricane is senior Tyler Henderson, who has earned second-team All-America accolades the past two seasons and was named the C-USA Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011. She was also named the 2012 C-USA Preseason Player of the Year. Henderson ranked fifth in the NCAA in kills per set (4.86) and 13th in the NCAA in points per set (5.11) last year. Fellow seniors Jessica Adams, the 2011 C-USA Libero of the Year, and Diana Silva, a first-team All-C-USA member, look for success in their final campaign together. Adams averaged 4.85 digs per set last year, while Silva tallied 13 double-doubles in 35 matches. Both Silva and Adams joined Henderson on the conference's preseason squad. Setter Jordan Clampitt, the 2010 C-USA Setter of the Year who paced TU with 8.17 assists per set last season and defensive specialist Shelbi Pitcher rounds out the senior class.

Junior Kellie Culbertson, a 2011 second-team All-C-USA performer, averaged 2.64 kills per set to finish third on the team. Fellow junior Miriele Gobbo was third on the team a year ago in attack percentage with a .295 clip and was second on the team in total blocks with 74.0. Sophomore Carly Boatwright, the 2011 team leader in blocks per set with .67 per set, returns along with Bailey Clampitt, who was second on the team averaging 5.35 assists per set.

Tulsa welcomes six newcomers to the roster, including middle blocker Ashley Hooper, outside hitter Maura McGivern, middle blocker Nicole Newton and outside hitter Paige Panfil. In addition, middle blocker Alexis Mitchell and defensive specialist Kelsey Parks will join the squad as walk-ons.

After the trip to Norman, Tulsa will head east to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the Razorbacks on August 28, in a 7 p.m. matchup. Later on that week, TU will compete in the Kansas Invitational in Lawrence, Kan., on August 31 and September 1. The Hurricane will face Arkansas State, Kansas and Nebraska Omaha during the two-day tournament.

For all Tulsa volleyball news and information, visit www.TulsaHurricane.com. Follow Tulsa Athletics on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TulsaHurricane and Facebook at www.facebook.com/TulsaHurricane. Follow Tulsa Volleyball on Twitter (www.twitter.com/TulsaVolleyball) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/TulsaVolleyball).