Nov. 14, 2007
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Five members of the Tulane volleyball team earned All Conference USA honors Wednesday, as junior outside hitter Sara Radosevic, junior right side Bridget Wells and sophomore outside Ksenija Vlaskovic earned First Team All Conference USA. Junior middle blocker Jen Linder and sophomore libero Jenn Miller earned Second Team honors. Miller added Libero of the Year accolades, while head coach Liz Kritza was named co-Coach of the Year.
Miller and junior defensive specialist Ashley Bernards also earned Conference USA All-Academic honors.
"It's an honor for our program to have five members named to the All-Conference teams," head coach Liz Kritza said. "Our student-athletes can be proud of these accolades that shed light on the depth and quality we have worked hard to build in this program. The next step is for these five to lead us through this conference tournament."
"The five selected are representatives of the program and they are the first to recognize that all honors, individual or team, are possible only with the commitment and dedication of their teammates , coaches, and staff. They share these honors with the entire Tulane Volleyball family."
Sophomore libero Jenn Miller was named the Conference USA Libero of the Year and also garnered second team accolades after setting a single-season Tulane record in digs for the second straight year. A four-time C-USA Defensive Player of Week award winner, the San Pedro, Calif., native ranks second in the conference in digs per game (5.29) which ranks 51st in Division I. Miller ranks sixth all-time at Tulane in digs already, and is on pace to take over the top spot next season.
Miller owns a 3.52 GPA in business to earn Academic All-Conference honors as well.
Sara Radosevic, a native of Zagreb, Croatia, picked up her third-straight All C-USA First Team nod after leading the conference in service aces (0.62 per game) and ranking fourth in kills per game (4.81). Radosevic is 24th in the NCAA in kills per game, and sits 17th in aces. A two-time AVCA All-America honorable mention player, she is fifth on Tulane's all-time kills leader board with 1,388 and can become the all-time leader in 112 games at her current pace of 5.16 career kills per game.
"Sara is a special player, and we expect her to continually improve, so collecting her third straight All-Conference Honor is not unexpected," Kritza said. "As a team leader, we look for her to elevate her level of play and lead us throughout this tournament week."
Vlaskovic, last season's C-USA Freshman of the Year, earns her second-straight All Conference honor. She ranks sixth in the conference in kills per game (4.39), and with 474 total kills is on the cusp of joining the top ten single-season kills leaders. The native of Pozarevac, Serbia, earned AVCA Midwest All-Region accolades last season and has reached 12 or more kills in 29 of Tulane's 31 matches.
"Ksenija has seen an expanded role this season and has responded well. She is an impact player, a gifted athlete, and a great person. We are pleased to see her recognized for her efforts and she will continue to challenge herself to power this team through to the postseason."
Right side hitter Bridget Wells was Tulane's third hitter on the First Team. In her breakout junior campaign, Wells ranks 10th in Conference USA in kills per game (3.70) giving Tulane a trio of top 10 killers and helping the Green Wave lead C-USA in kills per game as a team (16.92). The product of Raleigh, N.C., also ranks seventh in hitting percentage, connecting at a clip of .332. In Conference matches, Wells was second in C-USA with a .365 mark in 16 matches.
"I'm extremely pleased for Bridget," Kritza continued. "This recognition is well deserved and a testament to her desire for continual self improvement through hard work. She elevated her game to the next level, and has clearly earned this all-conference honor."
Rounding out Tulane's membership on the All-Conference teams is middle blocker Jen Linder. The junior from Austin, Texas, once again leads C-USA in hitting percentage, turning in a .412 mark. Last season, Linder also earned Second Team All-Conference honors after leading C-USA with a .437 hitting percentage. This season, the Green Wave are 11-1 this season when Linder has 4.0+ attempts per game, with the lone loss against #7 Wisconsin.
"In addition to leading our conference in hitting percentage, Jen is a great leader for our team," said Kritza. "The confidence she exudes is mirrored by her teammates. She is a dynamic, diligent player who does all the little extras to find success. We count on her consistency in blocking and ability to score offensively when we need it most."
"It is not an accident that four of our offensive players were honored today. We cannot congratulate them without highlighting the key to their success: their setters. Luna Rebrovic and Rachel Lindelow are the most under-recognized players in this conference. They do an incredible job of running the most productive offensive system in the conference and nation. Combined, they lead in assists in the conference and have led our team to a top 15 assists and kills per game ranking nationally."
With five of the 22 All-Conference Team members, Tulane comprised nearly a quarter of the All-Conference teams.
Bernards, a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Third Team selection from McMinnville, Oregon, owns a 3.954 GPA in finance from the prestigious A.B. Freeman School of Business.
Kritza, in her third year as a head coach at Tulane, has guided the Green Wave to a 42-35 record in her head coaching career. A 2000 graduate of Tulane, she spent five years an assistant coach before taking over the reins for a tumultuous 2005 season as the Green Wave were displaced all season following Hurricane Katrina. In the last two seasons, Kritza has posted a 41-16 record, setting a new school mark for conference wins and highest conference finish each year.
"I am truly surprised and grateful to be honored by my peers in Conference USA. Being relatively young in the profession, I am continually learning and have great coaches to learn from every season," Kritza said. "This honor does not belong to me alone: My assistant coaches and staff are top notch and the student-athletes we work with are truly second to none."
"For the last five years, I have had the distinct honor of working side by side with one of the most gifted coaches around. Sinisa Momic and his expertise is responsible for much of our success and he shares this honor with me. Meg Henican has been a perfect addition to the Tulane volleyball family and she is one of the best young coaches in the country."
The Green Wave (26-5 overall) placed second in C-USA with a 14-2 league mark, the most league wins and highest C-USA finish for Tulane. The Green Wave also are on pace to break school records for kills, kills per game, assists per game and hitting percentage in a season. Tulane's .274 hitting percentage as a team leads C-USA by such a comfortable margin that Tulane hitters could record 87 consecutive errors and still lead C-USA in hitting.
Tulane, the two seed in the Conference USA tournament, has earned a bye to the quarterfinals and will await the winner of 7-seeded Rice vs 10-seed UTEP. The Green Wave swept a pair of matches from both squads in the regular season, 3-1 at Rice and 3-2 against the Owls at home. Tulane took out UTEP in four in El Paso and swept the Miners at Fogelman Arena in the regular season finale.
Tulane's quarterfinal match will be at 11 a.m. CT Friday, in Huntington, W.Va., with live stats available at TulaneGreenWave.com. Should the Green Wave advance, Tulane's semifinal match would be at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Conference USA final will be at 5 p.m. CT, airing live nationally on CSTV (Cox Digital Cable channel 315 in New Orleans).