After a two-year hiatus and some restructuring, the tournament now is a three-day event, highlighting the league's top eight finishers in regular season play.
Marshall comes in at the No. 6-seed, thanks to 3-0 wins in its final two games over Tulane and UTEP, and will face No. 3-seeded UCF at 7 p.m.
The Herd was 1-1 against the Knights during the regular season, with Marshall winning a five-set match in Huntington, but falling 3-1 to UCF in Orlando, part of a seven-game losing streak the Thundering Herd broke with wins in the final two games, passing by No. 7 Memphis and No. 8 SMU with those wins.
UCF (14-14, 11-5) enters tournament play as one of only two teams to have defeated Tulsa this season. The Knights hand TU a 3-1 lost on Oct. 7.
Sophomore DeLaina Sarden is UCF's most efficient attacker, hitting .358 on the season, followed by senior Tory McCutcheon's .311. Junior OH Angelica Crump tops the club with 3.12 kills per set.
Junior OH Laura Der ranks second to Henderson with an average of 4.34 kills per set. She also ranks fourth in service aces per set with a .0.35.
Senior OH Katy Schad also ranks 10th in the league with 3.27 kps. Leading this crew is sophomore S Sammie Bane who dishes out 10.54 assists per set, third most in C-USA.
Marshall sophomore setter Sammie Bane is third in Conference USA in assists per game. (HI file photo by Marcus Constantino)
First-round action gets started Friday earlu, with host and three-time defending champion Tulsa (21-9, 14-2) facing No. 8 seed SMU (10-18, 7-9) at noon.
The Golden Hurricane won both matches against the Mustangs this season.
Tulsa has won four of the last seven regular-season championships but is angling for just its second tournament title (2007).
Seniors Tyler Henderson, Jessica Adams and Jordan Clampitt will guide the No. 1 seed this week.
Henderson leads the nation in kills per set, averaging 5.09 and ranks second in points per set with 5.58.
Adams tops the C-USA charts with a 5.15 digs per set average, while Clampitt's ball placement has Tulsa hitting .210 in the 6-2 offense.
The Mustangs have gone 2-5 over the last seven matches and is led by sophomore OH Caroline Young's 3.34 kills per set.
At 2 p.m., No. 4 seed UAB faces No. 5 seed UTEP. The Miners defeated UAB, 3-0, in its only meeting during the 2012 season.
The Blazers (19-13, 11-5) have gone 12-2 since October and will lean on senior MB Sam Serley who accounts for 2.69 kills and 1.41 blocks per set.
She also leads the league with a .384 hitting efficiency.
The Miners are spearheaded by a trio of players in Jeane Horton, Xitlali Herrera and Malia Patterson.
Horton's 4.25 kills per set ranks third best in the league while Herrera's .304 hitting efficiency is eighth best. Patterson is second in the conference in assists per set, averaging 10.78.
The third match of opening day pits No. 2 Rice against intra-city rival Houston, the seventh seed. These two teams split their regular season match-ups with each winning on their home court.
Rice (19-11, 12-4) won the last C-USA Championship in 2009, the school's first conference volleyball title. The Owls have gone 7-3 over the last 10 matches.
Senior MB Nancy Cole highlights this group as she ranks in the top 10 in the league in hitting percentage (.328), kills (3.51) and blocks (0.94) per set.
Houston (8-18, 7-9) picks up the No. 7 seed via winning the tie-breaker over SMU. The Cougars are a dangerous group as they have multiple offensive and defensive weapons.
Senior OH Katie Norris tops the club with 3.82 kills per set, while senior MB Chandace Tryon hits .307 and accounts for 1.12 blocks per set.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2012 C-USA Volleyball Championship will be available for viewing exclusively on the C-USA Digital Network.
Fans can also track match-by-match action on Gametracker on the C-USA Championship Central home page.
Semifinal action is set for Saturday, Nov. 17, at 3 and 5 p.m. Central. The winner of the Nov. 18 championship match will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The title match will be carried live on CBS Sports Network with Jason Knapp and Lindsey Berg on site to call the action.
2012 C-USA VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Tulsa, Okla. at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on TU campus
Friday, Nov. 16
Match 1: (8) SMU vs. (1) Tulsa (C-USA DN) 12 p.m.
Match 2: (5) UTEP vs. (4) UAB (C-USA DN) 2 p.m.
Match 3: (7) Houston vs. (2) Rice (C-USA DN) 5 p.m.
Match 4: (6) Marshall vs. (3) UCF (C-USA DN) 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17
Match 5: winner of match 1 vs. winner of match 2 (C-USA DN) 3 p.m.
Match 6: winner of match 3 vs. winner of match 4 (C-USA DN) 5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18
Match 7: Championship Match, winner of match 5 vs. winner of match 6 p.m. (CBS Sports Network) 1 p.m.