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November 15, 2012

Cairns' Corner: Volleyball Update

Hurricane volleyball finished out regular season play going 1-1 on the road down South and then 2-0 at home this past weekend. TU clearly had a letdown in two matches at Tulane and UTEP as the season nears its end. Both matches went five sets against teams that had played TU very tough earlier in the season, although Tulane is near the bottom of the conference. After three sets the Hurricane was behind Tulane 1-2 and then got its act together and won sets four and five decisively. The scores were 23-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-14, 15-7.

On Sunday in El Paso the Miners won the match 17-25, 25-18, 16-25, 27-25, 11-15. Tulsa didn't get much productivity out of the middle hitters or the right side hitters who are opposite Tyler Henderson. I mention this specifically because I've argued that Tulsa's middle hitters have to be bigger contributors if they're going to win over tough opponents; that's both offensively and defensively. I don't know how much Tulsa's very good coaching staff agrees with me on that.

If you want to see good middle blocking technique looks like, go to http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~cairns/vbskills. Then navigate to Middle Block and watch Anna Nedderman who I believe is the best defensive center front TU has had historically. Anna was a transfer from Georgia Tech as a senior and played only in the 2000 season.

If you navigate to the Pass page on that site, you'll find Kristien Van Lierop executing a defensive maneuver that was originally called a "Japanese roll". That's one way to extend one's range while digging a driven ball. That website was put out there by an amateur as an experiment. It's not professional but the instructional content would be good for the granddaughter of "TUMe" to take a look at.

Wins over Rice and Houston leaves TU atop C-USA

TU returned home and won twice to finish on top of the Conference USA standings. On Friday, Tulsa defeated Rice 25-22, 19-25, 25-12, 25-19 and on Sunday it was a nice win over Houston 25-18, 25-17, 25-20.

Here are the top teams of the final C-USA regular-season standings:

Tulsa 14-2
Rice 12-4
UAB 11-5
UCF 11-5
UTEP 10-6

In addition, the all-conference teams were announced. Senior outside hitter Tyler Henderson became the second C-USA volleyball player ever to be all-conference in all four years. Henderson is second in the nation in kills per set with 5.09, and third in points per frame with a 5.58 clip.

Senior libero Jessica Adams was named all-conference for the second time and was also named the C-USA Libero of the Year. Adams leads the league in digs per set with a 5.16 average, and ranks third in C-USA history in career digs.

Junior outside hitter Kellie Culbertson was second-team all-conference and middle hitter Ashley Hooper was on the all-freshman team. Culbertson ranks 28th in the nation in aces per set with 0.42 per frame, and ranks second in the league in the category.

Conference Tournament

This weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the C-USA postseason tournament will be played on the TU campus in the Reynolds Center. Tulsa begins with a noon contest on Friday, November 16, against SMU, as they attempt to win the title and an automatic bid for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Tulsa is the tournament's No. 1 seed and boasts a 21-9 overall record. SMU secured the No. 8 seed with a 10-18 mark overall and a 7-9 conference record. The Hurricane is currently 19th nationally in kills per set (14.39), 20th in assists per set (13.36) and 22nd in digs per set (17.74). TU is hitting .210 on the season while foes hold an attack percentage of .173.

TU has a 7-4 overall record in Conference USA Tournament matches, including a 2007 C-USA Tournament Championship. Tulsa beat SMU the only other time the two have met in the tournament.

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