Team primed for C-USA tourney

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Finishing up its best Conference USA season in school history, the volleyball team heads to the C-USA Tournament at Fogelman Arena in New Orleans to begin tournament play Friday at 3 p.m.

The Golden Eagles enter their tournament match versus DePaul with the No. 6 seed in the tournament, their highest ever. In addition, the team enters the match riding the wave of a seven-game winning streak, the longest in head coach Pati Rolf’s tenure with the team, and fourth longest in school history.

Sitting at the No. 1 rank in the tournament is Cincinnati, who finished its regular season with a record of 26-3 and a mark of 12-1 in conference, with its only loss coming in Saturday’s game against South Florida. Riding shotgun in the tournament is Louisville, who finished the regular season with a record of 20-4 and had a conference record of 12-1. These two teams, along with Southern Mississippi and Memphis, who finished third and fourth in conference respectively, are granted a first round bye based on their regular season conference records.

In the regular season, the Golden Eagles went 0-4 against C-USA’s top four teams. After their last loss to Memphis, the team started its seven-game winning streak.

According to sophomore Theresa Coughlin, the Golden Eagles’ familiarity with one another has been the reason for a change of pace for the team.

“I think now our offense is set, and we have become much more familiar with each other on the court,” she said. “We now know what we need to do in order to win games.”

If the Golden Eagles win their first round match with DePaul, they would take on Southern Miss. on Saturday, who they blanked, 3-0, on the road.

“Coach Pati Rolf told us that the things we will need to beat DePaul we will have to use at a faster pace to beat Southern Mississippi,” Coughlin said.

This season also marks the fourth consecutive season in C-USA history in which five teams have finished a season with at least 20 wins. This year Cincinnati, Louisville, Southern Miss., Memphis and Tulane all reached the 20-win plateau.

This year, the Golden Eagles have gone the distance by going to five games with their opponents in seven matches. Though the tournament games continue every day next weekend starting Friday, Coughlin would like to finish matches up in shorter sets, but would gladly go five games to get the victory.

“I think the five-game matches we had with tougher opponents at the beginning of the year will help us,” she said. “It would be great to finish up matches in the least amount of games as possible, but as long as we get the win going five games in each of these matches would not bother me.”

This tournament could also mark a milestone for Coughlin, who is 34 kills away from setting the record for number of kills in a two-year period.

Coughlin however, has placed more importance on statistics in terms of every match instead of season-long numbers.

“I haven’t thought too much about stats from the entire year, but on a match-by-match basis,” she said. “I am more concerned about our hitting percentage in terms of each game. I don’t pay too much attention to year-long statistics.”

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