Scoop on sets and spikes
For the volleyball enthusiast, the 1997 season has been, to this point, rather uneventful.
"Predictable" is the best way to describe the Conference USA standings right now.
At the beginning of the year, if someone had told me the Houston Cougars, South Florida Bulls and Louisville Cardinals would take the top three seeds going into the C-USA tournament, I would have simply replied, "no kidding."
Although I feel that any one of the three teams has a realistic shot of winning next week's C-USA tournament, this week's match between the Cougars and the Bulls will be the telling tale - the Madame Zelda of volleyball, if you will - of who will get the automatic bid into the NCAA tourney.
For example, if the Coogs sweep South Florida 3-0 in Tampa this weekend, my vote to win the tourney goes to the Bulls.
The Bulls are on a 16-match winning streak and have not lost since Sept. 19 against the Cougars. But if the Coogs get a too-easy win on Friday, they may be complacent in later tournament play, rest on their laurels and slip up.
If South Florida wins 3-0, then my favorite to win the tournament is the Bulls. They will have proved that not only are they the best team in the conference, but are the most improved team overall.
Louisville has lost just two conference matches this year (both to UH and USF) and have proven that they can play with the best of them.
If the Cardinals can get their act together by next week, they do an outside shot at overcoming South Florida and Houston.
C-USA Player of the Week
For the first time this season, a member of the Cincinnati Bearcats has been named the Conference USA Player of the Week.
Junior middle blocker Becky Tenkman of Villa Hills, Ky. led the Bearcats to two American Division wins last weekend, helping lock up a top four seed for the C-USA tournament.
She registered 21 kills and nine digs in UC's 3-0 win over DePaul on Nov. 7, and recorded 14 kills and 10 blocks in a 3-1 win over Marquette on Nov. 9.
Tenkman leads the team in kills (304). She hit .415 against DePaul and was three digs shy of a triple-double against Marquette.