Low seeds attempt to surprise the favorites

Anna Sivadasan

Staff Writer

For the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers and DePaul Blue Demons, winning matches has been a struggle this year.

The three teams have combined to post an overall record of 33-64 and a Conference USA record of 9-39. They will be the bottom three seeds when the C-USA Volleyball Tournament begins on Thursday at Hofheinz Pavilion.

However, South Florida head coach Perri Hankins stresses caution when she talks about the bottom-seeded teams. "When it gets to tournament time, anybody is a threat," she said.

UAB head coach Judy Sackfield said if the Blazers are to upset No. 7 Memphis and play Houston on Friday, UAB must utilize the talents of senior outside-hitter Tonya Larson, who leads the conference with 5.38 kills per game.

"Our strength is Tonya Larson," said Sackfield. "She's the person we want to touch the ball a great deal of the time."

UNC-Charlotte owns an 11-21 record, but the 49ers are coming off their biggest win of the year, a 3-1 win over Louisville.

"My team is playing very well," said coach Julie Ibieta. "We're probably playing as well and as hard as we can play."

The lowest seed in the C-USA tournament is No. 12 DePaul. The Blue Demons' record is 8-23, but DePaul has been competitive in its losses, taking three teams to a deciding fifth game this year.

"I think right now we're just a little short on talent," said coach Dawn Dockstader. "We're knocking on the door, but we just can't get through yet."

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