Tulsa Outlasts Blazers In Four Sets

Heather Thomas totaled 28 digs for the Blazers.

Oct. 30, 2011

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TULSA, Okla. ---- Heather Thomas notched a match-best 28 digs and Ashley Ricks tied a career-high with 12 kills, but Tulsa was able to defend its home court by knocking off the UAB volleyball team 3-1 (19-25, 26-24, 17-25, 20-25) at the Reynolds Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Blazers return to Bartow arena to host a two-match series with Conference USA opponent UTEP next weekend.  The first match is slated for Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. CT, followed by a showdown on Sunday beginning at noon CT.

UAB dropped to 18-7 overall and 8-5 in league play, while the Golden Hurricane maintains its spot atop the league standings (21-5, 12-1 C-USA).

“We got ourselves in early trouble and missed five serves in the first set,” head coach Kerry Messersmith said.  “It would have been a lot closer, but we just struggled with errors and that set the tone.”

At the libero position, Thomas not only topped the match in digs with her total of 28, but also tied her season-high.  On the season, she has surpassed the 20-dig plateau on 12 occasions and is just four shy of moving into fifth place in C-USA history.  The Madison, Ala. product has recorded 1,984 in her career, just 16 shy of 2,000.

“Heather really stepped up and played great defense for us,” Messersmith said.  “She has done a fantastic job all year for us in the back row.”

Ricks, a true freshman, also notched 12 kills earlier this season against Stephen F. Austin.  The New Washington, Ind. native finished the match with a match-high .524 attacking clip, putting 12 kills away on 21 attacks with only one error.  She added three digs and three block assists to her stat line.

Ally Slaughter chipped in with her seventh double-double of the season, tallying an even 10 kills and 10 digs for the Blazers and Thais Soares added nine kills on 21 swings coming off the Blazers’ bench.

“Thais did a great job coming in and gave us a real spark,” Messersmith said.  “She played extremely well and with a lot of emotion.”

Tulsa was led by Tyler Henderson’s 19 kills, while the setting duo of Jordan and Bailey Clampitt combined for 62 assists.

The Golden Hurricane led the first stanza from start to finish, behind a hitting percentage of .275 as a squad.  Leading the offensive charge was Henderson, who put five kills away to claim the first set.

In the second frame, the Blazers responded fighting tooth and nail with Tulsa in a set that featured 11 ties and six lead changes.  Ricks sent down five kills, while Thomas corralled seven digs in the frame as the UAB defense held the Tulsa attack to a hitting clip of .065.

The score was tied at 24-all in the second stanza, before back-to-back attacking errors by Tulsa evened the match at a game apiece.

Unfortunately for the Blazers, Tulsa bounced back to take the next sets 25-17 and 25-20 to earn the four-set victory.