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Tiger volleyball travels to Florida for conference matches

<p>Hannah Flowers jumps to hit the ball. The freshman has 168 kills in 17 matches this season.</p>
Hannah Flowers jumps to hit the ball. The freshman has 168 kills in 17 matches this season.

The Memphis Tigers (8-14, 1-9 AAC) will play on the road this weekend against South Florida Bulls (8-12, 3-7 AAC) and Central Florida Knights (11-11, 4-6 AAC).

The Tigers picked up their first conference win last week and are looking to improve their AAC record. Wins this weekend could potentially take Memphis up two spots to ninth in the conference standings.

The Tigers are 0-2 against these schools on the season, losing both in five sets. Against UCF, Memphis won the first and third sets but was outscored 40-20 in the final two. The Tigers dropped the first two sets against USF before taking the next two, but they lost 15-13 in the fifth.

A look at the opponents

USF and UCF are 10th and eighth, respectively, out of the 12 AAC schools. The Bulls are 1-3 in their last four matches, with all four ending in three sets. The Knights are 2-2 in in their last four while playing the same opponents.

The Bulls have been outscored 12.3 to 13.3 kills per set this season while committing more attacking errors in less attempts than opponents. They are better defensively with 17 digs per set, but their offensive struggles have led to their 3-7 AAC record.

The Knights play well both offensively and defensively, outpacing opponents with 13 kills and 2.1 blocks per set. They also have limited errors in both areas. They have struggling with their serves. UCF has only 0.9 aces per set and 160 serve errors compared to 151 by Memphis and 102 by USF.

Areas for Improvement

Memphis is coming off a two-match losing streak, but despite the losses last weekend, head coach April Jauregui has seen her team improve.

"Our energy, effort and fight for each other was the best I have seen to this point," she said in a press release after Sunday's loss to Cincinatti. "If we keep building on that and learn the necessary lessons of what it means to put in work every single day, every practice, every point, we will continue to make progress with this young team."

The Tigers are 1-6 on the road with their win coming against conference opponent, Tulane, in a five-set match.

In the loss against the Bulls, Memphis had more kills aces and blocks. The teams tied in assists, but the Bulls had 89 digs, while the Tigers had 86. The close match was decided by a few points, but Memphis will need to step up their defense to earn a win.

In the loss against the Knights, the teams had the same amount of digs and kills. UCF beat Memphis in aces and blocks. However, the Tigers had three more assists than the Knights.

Players to watch

UCF outside hitter: Kia Bright

In the last matchup against UCF, Bright had her best defensive match this season against with 27 digs and three blocks. She is the leading scorer for the Knights and put up 17 kills and 19 points in the team's last match. Since the teams’ met, she has had strong offensive matches putting up 24 points and 21 kills against Tulsa.

USF outside hitter: Reagan Davey

Reagan Davey put up big numbers against Memphis. She had a season high 5 aces, 16 digs and 11 kills in her best conference match of the season. She was the team’s second highest scorer against Memphis with 16 points.

Memphis middle blocker: Brianna Kadiku

The sophomore had a career high 15 kills in Memphis' last matchup with the Bulls. Last weekend she had eight blocks against Cincinatti, her season best. She has a team high 227.5 points this season.

Hannah Flowers jumps to hit the ball. The freshman has 168 kills in 17 matches this season.

Tai Bierria bumps the ball to a teammate. Bierria has started in 12 of the 19 matches this season.

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