Oct. 20, 2005
HOUSTON, Texas -
They say everything's bigger in Texas, well the saying holds true this weekend for the Thundering Herd volleyball team as it prepares to do battle in the Lonestar State against Houston, Rice and Tulane with first place in C-USA at stake.
The Thundering Herd will face Houston at 7 p.m. Friday night in a battle for the top spot in the C-USA. Marshall enters the match at 14-5 overall and 6-1 in league play while Houston comes in with a 5-1 mark in C-USA and 10-8 overall. The Herd will stay in Houston to face Rice on Sunday. Rice was picked as the preseason favorite to win the league and is 13-5, 4-3 in C-USA this season.
After the grueling weekend in Houston, the Herd will drive to College Station, Texas where Tulane is stationed from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Marshall has a half game lead over Houston coming into play this weekend and will look to stay on top, but it won't be an easy task. The Cougars have won five-straight coming into the match. The Herd has won seven of its last eight after dropping its first match in C-USA last Sunday at Memphis, 3-2.
The Marshall/Houston matchup features a battle of the C-USA Co-players of the Week in Kelly-Anne Billingy for the Herd and Kariny Ritter of Houston. Billingy smashed her own school record with 38 kills against Memphis. It was also the highest total of kills for any C-USA player this year. Both Billingy and Ritter pounded out over six kills a game last weekend. Billingy is no stranger to doing that as she leads the league with more than six kills a game in Conference USA play.
It's not just a one person show for the Herd however, Katie Stein took home Setter of the Week honors for the second time this season as she finished just one kill shy of recording two triple-doubles last weekend. Stein also broke Marshall's career service ace record at UAB last Friday night. The senior setter needs just 78 assists to break the all-time Marshall record in that category as well in her stellar career.
As a team, the Herd is leading every major offensive statistical category in C-USA except for service aces where MU is fourth. Nickie Sanlin is leading the league in hitting percentage, followed by Billingy. Stein leads in assists, Amber Sims is fifth in blocks, Billingy leads in kills, Stephanie Cahill is seventh in kills and Stein and Cahill are two and three in service aces.
Statistically this weekend, on top of Stein potentially breaking the Marshall career assist record, senior Amber Sims needs just two kills to get to 1,000 in her career and sophomore Kelly-Anne Billingy is just six kills shy of reaching the 1,000 plateau.
Houston is led by Jaci Gonzales. The libero leads C-USA and the nation with 6.28 digs per game.
First serve to an exciting weekend of volleyball is it at 7 p.m. Friday night from Houston Athletics/Alumni Center.