Cairns Corner: TU atop C-USA at 11-1

The TU volleyball women took on UAB on Sunday and won in three sets: 23-25, 17-25, 16-25. With four matches remaining in the regular season, Tulsa is 18-8 overall and 11-1 in conference play, followed by Rice at 9-3. UAB and UCF follow with 8-4 conference records. TU has four conference matches left in the regular season, this weekend at Tulane and UTEP and at home next weekend versus Rice and Houston.
Against UAB, spiking percentages were not very high in spite of the dominating win, but that's misleading because attack percentages suffer numerically if there are lots of long points. It's an unfortunate feature of the way we compute those percentages. But one way to win is to create long points and persist in them better than your opponents. That's been one of the strengths of the TU team under Coach Steven McRoberts, as well as Ed Allen before him.
As Tulsa plays the better teams, especially in the postseason, that will pay off. I like the way this plays out for me as a spectator, namely the longer the point goes the more confident I become of winning it. This emphasis on defense is also a credit to libero Jessica Adams who is the defensive ringleader.
The way the stats show this is that Kellie Culbertson and Diana Silva, the Golden Hurricane's two left side hitters, had 16 kills between them and were set 63 times to get them. Tulsa's offensive leader is always senior Tyler Henderson, regardless of what the stats say, and she did have a nice .293 attack average hitting 18 kills in 41 swings.
For the 17th time in her career, Henderson was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week. The C-USA career points leader currently leads the nation in kills per set with 5.23 and is tied for the top spot in the country for points with 5.73 per frame.
"Tyler has really been improving the efficiency of her game the last couple of weeks," said Coach McRoberts. "Not only has she maintained her high number of kills, but her hitting percentage has gone up as well, which is huge for the team."
Tulsa will hit the road for the final time during the regular season this weekend, facing Tulane on Thursday at 7 pm. They will play at UTEP on Sunday at 1 pm.
If you haven't seen TU play, make a point to come to the final conference matches versus Rice on Friday, November 9 and Houston on Sunday, November 11. I seem to remember that 11/11 at 11:00 am is Armistice Day from WWI, but I don't actually remember that day personally.