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Making up time: Volleyball looks to return to form after short season

<p>The volleyball team is looking to make up for lost time last season after it was cut short by the pandemic.</p>
The volleyball team is looking to make up for lost time last season after it was cut short by the pandemic.

Last season the University of Memphis Volleyball season was short, only playing 12 games in a season that normally has 28. March 13, 2020 was the last game vs Houston before the pandemic derailed the season. The team’s record was 5-7 as the season came to a screeching halt.  

Looking towards this season, the Tigers have 8 wins and 6 loses so far. The first home match was Sept. 17 at 11 am vs Arkansas Pine Bluff, kicking off the Tiger Brawl tournament winning 3-0. The Tigers also faced Arkansas State and University of Tennessee at Martin over the weekend dropping both games 3-0.

All games are important, but there is an even greater strength of playing at home in front of the Tiger fans. Head Coach Sean Burdette emphasized the importance of taking advantage of these home opportunities in front of the home crowd.

“It is important to enjoy the atmosphere. You only get a certain number of home matchups per year. It is so great to allow fans to come into the Finch Center and be able to impact the game in a positive way,” Burdette said. 

These were the last non-conference games of the season. The Tigers are looking to bring fans a win as they head on the road starting next week. The weekend left the team with a quick turnaround as they prepared for SMU Sept. 22, ultimately dropping that game 3-0.

“We are focused on all of the teams in the conference. It is certainly a top to bottom competitive conference,” Burdette said. 

Competitive teams even have things they can work on to improve, but they also have strengths that make each team unique. Throughout off season practice and games, Burdette has seen some of the team strengths come to the forefront.  

“We are a team that is going to out work our opponent. Our team atmosphere is something we have been able to rely on.” Burdette said. “We don’t necessarily have that one player that is going to score a bunch of points for us. Anyone can step up any given night.”

The team's depth was tested early in the season with some impactful, even some season ending injuries. Burdette is confident that his players will be able to step up the plate when necessary. 

“The  best players in the country are physical. Defensively we are in a good spot. We just have to keep growing on the physical side and that will help us in the long run,” said Burdette when asked how he wants to emulate the best players and team in the country. 

The team is excited to have fans back and are ready to get into the conference season. Half of the conference season will be in Memphis at the Larry O Finch Center, allowing plenty of opportunity for fans to show up and make an impact, and make an impact being at home did. The Tigers took on Temple Sunday, leaving the Larry O Finch Center with a dominant 3-1 win over their second conference opponent this season.

The Tigers will have some time to iron out some issues and reinforce their strengths before their next match. For that match, the team will hit the road and head north to face the Cincinnati Bearcats, kicking off a two-game road trip.

The volleyball team is looking to make up for lost time last season after it was cut short by the pandemic.

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