March 7, 2014
DeLAND, Fla. - The Green Wave's No. 2 tandem of junior Grace Weaver and freshman Annie Shurtz emerged victories in a pair of matches as the Tulane University sand volleyball team opened the 2014 season with a 1-1 split on Friday at the Stetson Spring Break Duals.
Weaver and Shurtz were the only pair to come away with a win in the first match of the day as the Wave dropped a 4-1 decision to host Stetson. In the nightcap, the twosome were the final duo to finish their match-up as Florida Gulf Coast's Karina Mambuca and Carolina Jordan bounced back from a 21-11 opening set loss to tie things up with a 21-17 victory in the second stanza. The two teams sat deadlocked at 9-all in the third-and-deciding set and the Tulane tandem were able to put together a 6-2 run the rest of the way to clinch the team victory.
"We're happy to get our first win of the season on a day in which we did not play our best volleyball," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said. "It's a good sign that we are able to get a win when we did not have our best performances. We have been playing against ourselves for so long in practice that just playing actual competition against a new opponent presented a significant challenge for us. I expect that early-season nerves will play less and less of a role as we move on into the season."
Florida Gulf Coast got on the board first in the Tulane's final dual of the day as the Eagles' No. 5 pair of Marlene Moeller and Madi Wilcox sandwiched 21-15 and 15-12 wins around a 21-11 second-set loss to Green Wave freshman Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner. Tulane tied the match up on Court 4 where junior Olivia Utt and sophomore Courtnie Liddle rallied from a 23-21 opening set loss to Shelby Joslin and Olivia Mesner to post consecutive wins of 21-16 and 16-14, and the Wave's top tandem of freshman Tea Juric and sophomore Jackie Wegner gave the team a 2-1 lead with a 21-15, 21-16 win over Kaitlin Holm and Whitney Masters in No. 1 action.
"All five pairs improved from the morning, which is a credit to the players being more relaxed and to their willingness to make some changes in their execution," Holly said. "The players' willingness to critically evaluate their morning performances and make changes is the thing I'm most proud of with this team."
In the opener against the Hatters, Stetson posted straight-set wins in thee of the five courts while Weaver and Shurtz did the same on Court 2. At the top of the lineup, Juric and Wegner fell to Kaley Maelville and Kaylee Anderson on scores of 21-14 and 21-5, Tiffany Creamer and Kristin Lind downed Liddle and Utt on Court 4 by tallies of 21-19 and 21-11, and Jordann Dierickx and Meren Rygh defeated Strasner and junior Amber Bennett 21-17, 21-11.
Tulane had a chance to steal at least one more point as Holmes and Wruck opened their contest against Savannah Byl and Madison Tormey with a 22-20 win, narrowly fell in the second set 21-19 and saw a 13-9 lead in the final frame evaporate into a 17-15 defeat to account for the final score.
"Stetson did an excellent job of minimizing errors and making routine plays," Holly said. "That, combined with our lack of aggressiveness, was the difference in the dual.
"I am encouraged that we showed some depth in our team by winning matches in three of our five flights and only narrowly dropping decisions in two others. The take away is that every one of our pairs is capable of competing and contributing to team wins each week. Our performance definitely improved from the first dual in the morning to the second dual in the afternoon."
The Stetson Spring Break Duals conclude on Saturday with a pairs tournament with tandems from Tulane, Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast and Warner squaring off in a bracketed event starting at 8 a.m. From there, the Green Wave return to action on Friday, March 14, when they travel to Tucson, Ariz., to open play in the Wildcat Spring Challenge against Arizona Christian. Tulane will also face Arizona State and host Arizona during the tournament before playing its first home match of the 2014 campaign on March 26 at Coconut Beach in Kenner against in-state rival and first-year program, LSU.
STETSON HATTERS DEFEAT TULANE GREEN WAVE: 4-1
No. 1: Kaley Maelville / Kaylee Anderson (STET) def. Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) - 21-14, 21-5
No. 2: Grace Weaver / Annie Shurtz (TLN) def. Julie Bassett / Katie DiGirolamo (STET) - 21-14, 21-17
No. 3: Savannah Byl / Madison Tormey (STET) def. Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) -22-20, 21-10, 17-15
No. 4: Tiffany Creamer / Kristin Lind (STET) def. Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) - 21-19, 21-11
No. 5: Jordann Dierickx / Meren Rygh (STET) def. Amber Bennett / Sarah Strasner (TLN) - 21-17, 21-11
TULANE GREEN WAVE DEFEAT FLORIDA GULF COAST EAGLES: 3-2
No. 1: Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) def. Kaitlin Holm / Whitney Masters (FGCU) - 21-15, 21-16
No. 2: Grace Weaver / Annie Shurtz (TLN) def. Karina Mambuca / Carolina Jordan (FGCU) - 21-11, 17-21, 15-11
No. 3: Vanessa Benke / Eleonora Kazarian (FGCU) def. Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) - 21-8, 21-18
No. 4: Courtney Liddle / Oliva Utt (TLN) def. Shelby Joslin / Olivia Mesner (FGCU) - 21-23, 21-16, 16-14
No. 5: Marlene Moeller / Madi Wilcox (FGCU) def. Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) - 21-15, 11-21, 15-12