Women's Volleyball

Marshall Swings Into Championship Action

Nov. 20, 2013

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall volleyball team received a first-round bye in the Conference USA Tournament by securing the No. 4 seed in this week's playoff at Alumni Memorial Gym in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The Thundering Herd will play No. 5 North Texas (17-13, 9-6 C-USA) at 3 p.m. ET on Friday. The Herd finished the regular season 15-15 overall (8-6 C-USA) and defeated Middle Tennessee on Nov. 15, in its last regular-season match, to help secure the No. 4 seed.

Marshall's No. 4 seed is the highest seed it has received since the 2007 season. That season the Herd won the regular-season championship and lost in the semifinals to that year's champion Tulsa, 3-2.

Senior outside hitter Laura Der (Clarksville, Ind.) has been named to the All-Conference USA first team for the second consecutive year. She led the Herd with 315 kills, averaging 3.42 kills per set and 283 digs in the regular season. Her 3.42 kills per set ranks her 12th in C-USA and her 3.08 digs per set ranks 20th in the league. Der ranks sixth in program history with 1,191 kills and fifth in digs with 1,236.

Senior middle blocker Sacha Byous-McConnell (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and junior setter Sammie Bane (Brownstown, Ind.) were named All-Conference USA second team. It marked the first all-conference selection for Byous-McConnell and Bane.

Byous-McConnell ranks second in the league with a .377 hitting efficiency and is second on the team with 2.67 kills and 3.03 points. She ranks ninth in total blocks (231), block solos (51) and block assists (180) in Marshall history. She also is third in career hitting percentage with a .299 hitting efficiency.

Bane has been among the league's top setter the last three seasons. She stands at No. 4 in the league with a 10.56 assists per set average and has been named C-USA Setter of the Week twice this season and four times in her career. She has collected 1,246 assists on the season. Bane is also fourth in career assists at Marshall with 3,663.

Der and Bane were also named to the C-USA Volleyball All-Academic Team on Nov. 18. Bane has a 3.93 GPA in exercise physiology and psychology and has won the award for the second consecutive time. The setter was selected to the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll last season.

Der, who owns a 3.9 GPA in advertising, also was voted to the Capital One District II First Team which advances her to the national all-academic ballot for Marshall. In 2012, the outside hitter was named to the All-Conference USA First Team and C-USA All-Academic Team. She also earned a spot on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and received the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal.

Senior libero Dorothy Rahal (Venice, Fla.) might have been left of the all-conference teams, but her hard work doesn't go unnoticed by her teammates or her coach. Rahal has tallied 473 digs, averaging 4.01 per set this season and has recorded a .969 serve receive percentage. Her legacy also will show up in the record book, where she is second in digs for a career (1,642), third in career digs per set (3.57), and collected the second most digs in a single season (525) in 2012.

"It's unfortunate that Dorothy (Rahal) didn't make the all-conference team," Der said. "Everything starts with her, I don't know where we would be without her. She makes the pass then Sammie (Bane) makes the set and we attack. She has had an outstanding career and I'm proud to call her my teammate. She is like a sister to me."

North Texas won the Sun Belt West Division a season ago and is looking to become a force in C-USA. The Mean Green (16-13, 8-6 C-USA) enters the tournament as the No. 5 seed. Marshall defeated North Texas, 3-1, on Oct. 13. The Herd owns a 2-0 all-time record over the Mean Green. UNT is led by first-year coach Andrew Palileo.

The Mean Green is led by Carnae Dillard, who was named to the All-C-USA First Team. She led the Mean Green offensively in several categories in cluding kills (441), kills per set (4.24) and was second on the team in digs with 343 and averaged 3.30 digs per set. The San Antonio native had some explosive single-match performances this season. She tied her career high of 31 kills against Marshall and tossed in back-to-back double-digit dig performances with 26 against Southern Miss and Tulsa. She also broke into the top-10 on the North Texas career kills list as she now has 993 total kills, placing her sixth all time.

The first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be carried on the C-USA Digital Network, while the championship match will be televised on CBS Sports Network. All 10 matches can be viewed on the network by purchasing a $14.95 monthly subscription or a $119.95 annual subscription. Current subscribers to the C-USA Digital Network can just click the "watch links" on the Volleyball Championship Central site to view the current match in progress.

All-session passes are $20, while single-session adult passes are $10, as are all-session youth passes. Single-session youth passes are $5, while single-session student passes are free of charge.

For more information of Marshall volleyball, follow (@HerdVolleyball) on Twitter or visit www.HerdZone.com.

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