Nov. 16, 2012
TULSA, Okla. ---- Sam Serley and Rachel Fairbanks of the No.4-seed UAB volleyball team each broke single-season school records in the Blazers’ 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-18) sweep of No. 5 UTEP in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament at the Reynolds Center.
UAB improves to 20-13 overall as the Blazers have won 13 of their last 15 matches. The Blazers advance to the C-USA semifinals to take on top-seed and tournament host Tulsa, on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
The win for the Blazers avenged a 3-0 sweep at UTEP (16-13) back on Sept. 28 and marked the fourth time this season that a UAB opponent was held under 20 points for an entire match.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” head coach Kerry Messersmith said. “I think we came here to give ourselves an opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament and the girlscame out and were very focused.”
In the victory, UAB hit an impressive .279 as a team, making only nine miscues as a whole on 122 swings. Leading the offense was a pair of seniors in Serley and Kirsten Gallagher. Serley put down a team-high 12 kills and hit .360, while Gallagher hit an impressive .526, rocketing 10kills on 19 attacks with no miscues.
“The key was that we took really good care of the ball and dominated the net as far as blocking,” Messersmith said. “We also did a nice job serving and kept UTEP out of system.”
Serley continued to be a wall in the front row for theBlazers as she has been her entire career in Green and Gold. The Nashville, Tenn., native had set the UAB career record for blocks in the season finale at Southern Miss, followed upthat performance by breaking another record on Friday.
The senior finished the night with eight swats (three solo) on the Miners to give her 179 total blocks on the season, breaking Julie Myers’ record of 175 set back in 1989. Serley’s record is even more impressive, because she collected her rejection total in her 33rd match, totaling 124 sets. In 1989, Myers played in 44 matches and 153 sets.
Also resetting the record book was Fairbanks, who broke the single-season mark for digs. The Katy, Texas native corralled 18 digs to give her 633 for the season. Her dig total bests former libero Heather Thomas’ previous mark of 631 digs set a season ago.
Joining Fairbanks with strong play in the back row was Kate Morrell, as the senior outside hitter tied Fairbanks for team-high honors in digs with 18.
“What a great accomplishment for both Sam and Rachel,” Messersmith said. “For both of them to break a record in the same match is something special that they will alwaysremember.”
Running the offense was setter Alison Woods, who dished out 34 assists and added 10 digs for her team-best 15th double-double of the season.
UTEP managed to hit only .103 as a team, but was led by first-team all-league selection Jeane Horton, who finished with a match-high 18 kills in the loss.
Also producing a strong stat line for the Miners was Victoria Valencia, as the libero finished with 20 digs.
UAB and Tulsa will meet for the second time this season on Saturday. The Blazers dropped the lone meeting in Tulsa, back on Oct. 28, one of only two losses for the Green and Gold since the start of October.