March 8, 2014
DeLAND, Fla. - One day after helping the Tulane University sand volleyball team open the 2014 season with a 1-1 dual match record, the tandem of freshman Tea Juric and sophomore Jackie Wegner put the finishing touches on the Green Wave's solid weekend at the Stetson Spring Break Tournament by rallying out of the losers' bracket to win the Upper Division Pairs Bracket on Saturday.
After cruising through their first two matches of the day, Juric and Wegner suffered a 21-11, 21-13 defeat at the hand of Stetson's top tandem of Kaley Melville and Kaylee Anderson. The Green Wave duo was able to advance to the finals of the double-elimination event with a 21-15, 21-11 win over Florida Gulf Coast's Kaitlin Holm and Whitney Masters, but found itself on the ropes as Melville and Anderson won the opening set of a potential title-deciding contest, 21-18.
Juric and Wegner, however, won the next two sets 21-18 and 15-7 to force a second, winner-takes-all matchup where they posted their fourth straight-sets victory of the day with scores of 21-17 and 21-18. With two consecutive revenge wins over Melville and Anderson, the Green Wave pair become the first Tulane tandem to ever win a bracketed tournament.
"Jackie and Tea showed a great tenacity in playing six matches in one day," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said. "They consistently and steadily improved with each match they played and represented their team extraordinarily well in this event. I am proud of their ability to recognize patterns in the game and execute tactics to the circumstances they are facing.
"Losing to a very good team in Stetson's No. 1 pair and then returning from the losers' bracket to beat that same team in two consecutive matches in a double final was a great testament to their training and their willingness to relentlessly compete."
Also posting multiple victories on Saturday were freshmen Hannah Holmes and junior Anna Wruck. Playing in the single-elimination Lower Division Pairs Bracket, the Green Wave unit opened the bracket with a 28-23 win over Stetson's Kara Young and Stephanie Marin before defeating Warner's Rachel Meiner and Rachel Stanton, 28-19, in the quarterfinals. The duo's run ended in the semifinals where Stetson's Tiffany Creamer and Kristin Lind posted a 21-9, 21-11 victory.
Freshmen Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner added an opening-round win in the Lower Division Bracket, defeating Stetson's Claudia Kalin and Taylor Kennedy, 28-23, before falling in the semifinals to the Hatters' Katie DiGirolamo and Julie Bassett, 28-14. Also posting a win for Tulane were junior Grace Weaver and freshman Annie Shurtz. Playing in the Upper Division event, the tandem dropped a 21-16, 21-17 decision to Florida Gulf Coast's Kaitlin Holm and Whitney Masters but stayed alive by posting a 21-18, 21-16 victory over FGCU's Karina Mambuca and Caroline Jordan in the losers' bracket. Their run ended in the quarterfinals, however, as Weaver and Shurtz narrowly dropped a 28-26 opening set decision to Byl and Tormey and tied things up with a 21-20 win in the second stanza before falling in the last frame, 15-11.
"I am pleased with our steady march toward an improved level of play and tactical awareness," Holly added. "Yesterday we improved our performance from morning to afternoon, and the trend continued today as every one of our pairs competed at a higher and more strategic level than yesterday."
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.