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Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 62

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Volleyball team enters C-USA tourney with high expectations

UH/C-USA Volleyball Notebook

Andrew J. Ferraro

The UH volleyball team did not accomplish one of its primary goals it set forth for the 1999 season.

Needing just one victory last weekend to clinch its first-ever Conference USA regular season championship, UH (19-7, 13-3 C-USA) dropped a pair of matches on the road in Cincinnati and Louisville.

It did not win a single game and was swept by a C-USA foe for the first time since Cincinnati did it last year.

OK. Enough of the doom, gloom and negativity. Houston still finished tied for first in C-USA, and after winning its division more than two weeks ago, the Cougars clinched a bye through the first round of the looming championship tournament.

There is only one automatic way of getting into the NCAA tournament, and that is to win the conference tourney. But should things not work out that way for Houston, getting a 20th win on the year would greatly improve its chances of landing an at-large invitation into the NCAAs.

Houston needs just one more win, and it has at least three more chances to do so. I like the odds.

Other turbulence in Cincinnati

After the Cougars lost their second match over the weekend in Louisville, would a nice trip home be asking too much? Some of the players, coaches and staff are still wondering that.

After getting on the bus and arriving at the Louisville airport, the flight that followed was uneventful. However, the team was flying ComAir (Delta's regional express carrier) and had to make a connection in Cincinnati (how ironic) before heading back to Houston.

After a lengthy delay in Cincinnati, the Cougars thought they were finally headed home and boarded their Canadair Regional Jet. Then the captain came on and said something to the following effect:

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is a light on in the cockpit indicating that there may be something wrong with our landing gear. We are going to lower the gear and you may hear a noise. Please do not be alarmed."

After the pilots tested the wheels, it was determined that it was necessary to head back to Cincinnati for the repairs. Upon landing, the Cougars were instructed to "assume the emergency landing procedure" (which is the new way of saying, "Put your head in your lap in case we hit the ground real hard").

Although it was said that the pilots stated this was all routine and most likely worry-free (the emergency positions included), it was just not a good way to end the weekend.

Next year, barring any Y2K scheduling conflicts, Cincinnati and Louisville will be coming to Houston.

The 1999 C-USA Championship Tournament

The 1999 Conference USA Volleyball Championship will be played Nov. 18-21 in Tampa, Fla., at The Corral of the University of South Florida.

All 12 C-USA volleyball teams will compete in the tournament. Louisville is the defending champion, having defeated South Florida a year ago in a five-game thriller.

The following is a complete schedule of this weekend's championship:

Schedule of events/results

Thursday, Nov. 18

Match 1 -- Marquette (6) vs. Memphis (11), 1 p.m.

Match 2 -- UNC Charlotte (7) vs. Tulane (10), 3 p.m.

Match 3 -- Saint Louis (5) vs. UAB (12), 6 p.m.

Match 4 -- South Florida (8) vs. Southern Miss (9), 8 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 19 -- Quarterfinals

Match 5 -- Marquette-Memphis winner vs. Houston (3), 1 p.m.

Match 6 -- UNC Charlotte-Tulane winner vs. Louisville (2), 3 p.m.

Match 7 -- Saint Louis-UAB winner vs. DePaul (4), 6 p.m.

Match 8 -- South Florida-Southern Miss winner vs. Cincinnati (1), 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 20 -- Semifinals

Winners of Matches 5 and 6, 1 p.m.

Winners of Matches 7 and 8, 3 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 21 -- Finals

Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.

A Bold Prediction

After looking into my crystal ball, I am still puzzled over how this year's tourney will conclude. There are three teams (Houston, Louisville and Cincinnati) that could take home this year's title; even Marquette or DePaul could be in the running.

This year, I predict Cincinnati will overcome the odds and take its first-ever C-USA title. Upsets in this one, however, should be few and far-between.

In the first round, Marquette and Saint Louis will sweep Memphis and UAB (respectively), and UNC Charlotte and South Florida will win tough four- or five-game matches over Tulane and Southern Miss.

Houston will defeat Marquette in five games on Friday before Louisville beats UNCC in a four-game marathon. Later that day, DePaul will defeat SLU in four games before the Bearcats sweep the Bulls.

After Houston wins the first game in the semifinals, Louisville will take the next three and await Cincinnati, who will have no trouble taking care of the Blue Demons later on that day.

After trading wins in games one through four, UC will fall behind the Cardinals 6-11 in game five before rallying to win the title.
 

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