Tulsa Opens Conference USA Schedule With Three Home Contests
Sept. 18, 2012
TULSA, Okla. - The University of Tulsa volleyball squad opens its Conference USA slate with three home matches at the Donald W. Reynolds Center this week. The Golden Hurricane will host SMU in a 7 p.m. affair on Wednesday, September 19, while facing Marshall in a 7 p.m. tilt on Friday, September 21. TU wraps up the weekend facing East Carolina in a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday, September 23. All regular season Tulsa volleyball matches are free to the public.
The three conference home games mark the end of a six-game home stand, the longest for TU since 2009 when Tulsa enjoyed a seven game home stand. Before the match against SMU, the 2011 Conference USA Championship and 2011 NCAA Tournament banners will be unfurled.
"Any time you are able to hang a banner, you feel like you had a successful season," Head Coach Steven McRoberts stated. "There are so many people that are involved in that, and of course the number one group is the players. We are proud of these young ladies and the season they had last year. I'm proud of our coaches and the job that we did. We have great administrators here, we have great academic support and all of our facility people do an outstanding job for us. There are so many people involved when a banner goes up. It's a proud moment, it's a quick time to reflect on some past success, and you have to do it, but our focus is to be hanging a couple more banners next year."
Tyler Henderson leads the high-powered Hurricane offense, as well as the nation in kills per set with 5.44. She also is second in the nation in points per frame with a 5.93 average.
Junior outside hitter Kellie Culbertson leads the conference in service aces with 0.41 per frame. Culbertson also leads the team in double-doubles with ten, and is second on the team averaging 2.94 kills per frame
Senior libero Jessica Adams headlines the Tulsa defense as she ranks second in the conference in digs per frame with 4.57.
SMU enters Wednesday's contest with a 3-9 record. The Mustangs handed Tulsa its only two conference losses last year as TU went 18-2 in league play. As a team, SMU is hitting .187 while opponents have hit .246 against the Mustangs.
SMU is led by sophomore Caroline Young, who ranks 11th in the conference with 3.49 kills per set. Senior Courtney Manning, a 2011 First Team All-Conference USA honoree, led the nation last year in blocks with 185 swats and paced the Mustangs with a .307 attack clip. This year, Manning leads the team in hitting with a .320 clip. Susan Lewis leads the team averaging 3.16 digs per frame.
"SMU is a rivalry match, no matter what the situation is," McRoberts said. "They played really well both times against us last year. We understand that this is a very important match for us in Conference USA play as it is our conference home opener."
Marshall is sitting on the top of the league standings with an 11-4 overall record and a 1-0 conference ledger after defeating East Carolina last week. The Thundering Herd are coming off a tournament victory at the Pirate Invitational, and has won its last eight games. Marshall is hitting .191 while holding opponents to a .165 attack clip.
Laura Der averages 3.87 kills per frame, which ranks seventh in Conference USA and paces The Herd. Katy Schad averaged 3.67 kills per frame to rank second on the squad, Sacha Byous-McConnell hits .347 to rank second in the conference and Dorothy Rahal is fourth in the league averaging 4.19 digs per set.
East Carolina enters this weekend with a 1-11 overall record and a 0-1 record after losing to Marshall last weekend. The Pirates are hitting .102 on the season, while their opponents are hitting .181 against ECU.
Nicole Willis leads the team in kills per frame with 3.87, while Kelly Derby leads the conference in blocks per set averaging 1.43. Shelby Beasley paces the team in digs with 165 on the campaign.
"From what I have seen, Marshall is playing very well right now," McRoberts said. "They are 11-4, and they have had multiple players get player of the week in the conference. After the SMU match, we are immediately going to start preparing for Marshall. East Carolina has some talent on their squad. They have lost some close matches, and even last year we could have easily lost the first set against them."
After the home stand, Tulsa hits the road for a four-game road swing. The Hurricane will head down to Houston to face Houston on Friday, September 28 and Rice on Sunday, September 30.
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).
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