Jacobs had challenged his team after falling at East Carolina last weekend, and the team had responded with wins against N.C. State and Morgan State in the ECU Tournament to make Jacobs the all-time winning coach at Marshall. He passed Linda Holmes, who won 137 as head coach in the 1980s with the Herd program. Winning the first game in C-USA play was much more important than any personal records for Jacobs, in his seventh season at the Marshall volleyball helm.
"It was much more important to win the first conference game in our home conference opener," when congratulated about his 140th win by WMUL 88.1 FM, the MU student station. "We didn't know what it felt like to be 0-1 in a league and when I finally got to watch (the ECU) match, I thought we were not bringing any attitude to the court, no sense of playing to kill. We did tonight. We came out strong early."
Marshall jumped out to a 4-0, then 10-2 lead in set one and never looked back, winning 25-10 in a route of Memphis. But game two was exactly the opposite, as the Herd fell behind 10-4, pulled within one a couple of times but watched Memphis win set two by 25-21. "I told the team, between games two and three, they were just losing their heads," said Jacobs of mental mistakes in that second set. "Stick to the game plan, make this team play us from the right side and do things they don't do well, because the things they do well they do very well, like block us off the port on the left side in that second game."
Set three was a beauty of a match to watch, if not play, as ten ties from 1-1 to 15-15 included some very long volleys by both sides. But an ace by the Herd's Taylor Tanner pushed MU to a 5-0 run and a 20-15 lead. Memphis fought back to cut the lead to 20-18, but kills by Jalicia Ross (11 kills, four errors), Elizabeth Herman (15 kills, 11 errors) and Layne Kehl (three kills, two aces), along with Emily Sullivan's game-point kill, gave the Herd the set, 25-21, and a 2-to-1 advantage in the match.
"Elizabeth Herman is coming along," said Jacobs of his sophomore. "She had 45 percent kill rate, but 11 errors. But she's our terminal player and we just have to go with her." Jacobs also mentioned the play of sophomore setter Elizabeth Fleming, who had 42 sets, one kill, no errors and eight digs on the night as tonight's MVP. Also playing well as Kristin Marcum, who recorded a match-best 23 digs, including 15 in the first two matches, to go with seven kills and an assist. "Emily Sullivan (13 kills, three errors and five assists) was huge for us, she has done a nice job for us. We have to follow our game plan. Memphis was not at their best tonight, but we'll take that. We are going to make errors as a young team. Game three was huge for us, with side out, side out and hanging on to win.
"Layne Kehl had a perfect tactical service set in game four for us...that sparked the win." Kehl had two aces in a row and led Marshall on an 8-0 run to go up 15 points, 23-8, in set four after five early ties. MU made some errors down the stretch but hung on to take the match and set, 25-13. The Herd will face UAB in C-USA action on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Cam Henderson Center. The Blazers were 9-3, 0-1 in league play, entering tonight's action but had won nine of its last ten matches.