The Memphis Tigers volleyball team remained perfect over the weekend at the Saluki Invitational hosted by Southern Illinois University. Memphis won both games Friday and wrapped up the tournament with a win Saturday.
The Tigers improved to 9-0, with this season being the second-best start to a season in program history after being 10-0 in the 2001 campaign. Sean Burdette, head coach of the Tigers volleyball team, talked about the weekend’s success as a step-in improvement.
“This weekend was yet another step for our team in that we had three very good opponents that all game planned and attacked us differently,” Burdette said.
Alabama State recap
Last Friday, the Tiger’s first game in tournament play was against the Alabama State Hornets. Memphis won the match with ease, winning three out of four sets, with scores of 25-16, 25-23, 21-25 and 25-13.
The Tigers won the first two sets before losing the third set by only four points. Although The Tigers trailed in the fourth set one time, they went on two sets of runs to close the game. Sabrina Bianco and Meredith Wallace each posted double-doubles in the match.
Bianco recorded 43 assists and 12 digs. She posted her third 40-plus assist game of the season. Wallace tallied a team-high 18 kills and 11 digs. It was her fourth double-digit kills performance of the year and sixth of her young career.
Southern Illinois recap
In the second game Friday, the Tigers had to go the distance in order to get the victory over Salukis, the host team of the tournament. Memphis won three sets out of five with the scores 26-23, 25-17, 23-25, 13-25 and 15-10.
Hannah Flowers led the charge with 15 kills and three-straight serve points in the deciding set. Burdette later spoke with the media after keeping their undefeated mark intact with the win.
“We got back to what works best in keeping the ball off the floor,” Burdette said. “I’m really proud of the team, especially when they had their backs against the wall.”
Flowers went over the 700-kills mark for her career, entering the game needing two and ending with 15. Kaitlyn Gehler finished the game with 28 digs, the most by a Tiger in a match this season.
In the championship match Saturday, the Tigers dominated Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) 3-0. Memphis won the match by scores of 25-19, 25-20 and 26-24. Flowers again showed up and showed out, downing 19 kills to lead the team. Burdette had some high praise for the junior.
“Hannah did a tremendous job the entire weekend and had high numbers in kills per set, as well as hitting percentage,” Burdette said.
Flowers was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, and had two fellow Tigers, Gehler and Andrea O’Connor, make the All-Tournament Team.
The Memphis Tigers hope to continue a strong start to the 2019 campaign as they return home this upcoming weekend to host the 2019 Beale Street Challenge. The Tigers will welcome North Alabama, Southeast Missouri and Toledo. They play against the North Alabama Lions on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.