March 14, 2014
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Green Wave tandem of freshman Hannah Holmes and junior Anna Wruck as well as the rookie duo of Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner both posted a pair of victories as the Tulane University sand volleyball team earned a 1-1 split in day one of the Wildcat Spring Challenge on Friday at the Arizona Sand Courts.
Tulane opened the day with a 5-0 sweep of Arizona Christian before coming up just short in a hard-fought contest against Arizona State in the afternoon. With the split, Tulane is now 2-2 on the year and will close out play in the Spring Challenge on Sunday against host Arizona at 1 p.m. (CDT).
"On the whole, the day brings a mixed reaction," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said. "Our performance is improving and we were presented with a great learning experience. But the result is disappointing. How we respond in our training is the most immediate challenge for next week. For now, we move on and get ready to compete against a strong team in Arizona."
Holmes and Wruck won both of their battles at the No. 3 position, joining forces to defeat Arizona Christian's Betsy Caulfield and Alison Furno (21-11, 21-19) and Arizona State's Jordy Checkal and McKenzie Willey (21-17, 21-18) in straight sets. Diirell and Stranser, meanwhile, opened the day at No. 5 where they swept the Firestorm duo of Carlee Swanson and Briauna Tutwiler (21-11, 21-9) before moving up to the No. 4 spot in the lineup against the Sun Devils to post a 21-14, 21-12 victory over Bree Bailey and Genevieve Pirotte.
"We were able to execute on our side of the net well enough to beat Arizona Christian," Holly said. While ACU struggled and no doubt did not play their best volleyball, there is something to be said for executing on your half. We did that so we will take the win."
Diirell and Strasner got Tulane off to a solid start with their No. 4 win against Arizona State, but the Sun Devils rallied to tie things up at No. 5 where Andi Lowrance and Nora Tuioti-Mariner defeated Liddle and Utt by scores of 21-15 and 21-19. The effort of Holmes and Wruck put the Green Wave on the cusp of a 2-0 afternoon only to see ASU come away with a pair of extended, three-set wins at the top of the lineup.
Shurtz and Weaver fell behind early to Whitney Follette and Macey Gardner as the Sun Devil unit won the opening set, 21-15. Tulane's tandem battled back to tie the match with a 24-22, second-set win and gave everything they could in winner-take-all stanza before falling, 22-20.
It was a similar situation when Juric and Wegner took on ASU's No. 1 team of Bianca Arellano and Bethany Jorgensen. Arellano and Bethany won the opening set, 21-16, before Juric and Wegner rallied for a 21-18 second-set win. The back-and-forth battle continued into the third frame, but once again the Sun Devils got key points when they needed them to come away with a match-deciding 17-15 win.
"The matches we lost in five were very tough battles," Holly added. "While we are very disappointed to lose the dual, our No. 1 and No. 2 teams gained some valuable experience that will pay off later in the season. Both teams were simultaneously competing in a final third set with the dual on the line. It was a lesson in pressure performance we could never re-create in practice. From that perspective, there is a positive."
Following Saturday's match against Arizona, Tulane will open the home portion of the 2014 schedule on Wednesday, March 29, when the Green Wave play host to in-state rival and first-year program LSU at 2 p.m. at Coconut Beach in Kenner, La. Admission to all home sand volleyball contests is free.
TULANE GREEN WAVE DEFEAT ARIZONA CHRISTIAN FIRESTORM: 5-0
No. 1: Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) def. Haley Worden / Samantha McCants (ACU) - 21-16, 21-9
No. 2: Annie Shurtz / Grace Weaver (TLN) def. Sydney Smith / Kailaa Heaney (ACU) - 21-12, 21-9
No. 3: Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) def. Betsy Caulfield / Alison Furno (ACU) - 21-11, 21-9
No. 4: Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) def. Karleigh McClure / Danielle Parker (ACU) - 21-8, 21-10
No. 5: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Carlee Swanson / Briauna Tutwiler (ACU) - 21-11, 21-9
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS DEFEAT TULANE GREEN WAVE: 3-2
No. 1: Bianca Arellano / Bethany Jorgensen (ASU) def. Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) - 21-16, 18-21, 17-15
No. 2: Whitney Follette / Macey Gardner (ASU) def. Annie Shurtz / Grace Weaver (TLN) - 21-15, 22-24, 22-20
No. 3: Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) def. Jordy Checkal / McKenzie Willey (ASU) - 21-17, 21-18
No. 4: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Bree Bailey / Genevieve Pirotte (ASU) - 21-14, 21-12
No. 5: Andi Lowrance / Nora Tuioti-Mariner (ASU) def. Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) - 21-15, 21-19