March 14, 2012
DeLAND, Fla. - They say that good things come to those who wait. For the Tulane University sand volleyball team, the wait may have been a little longer than expected but the Green Wave picked up the first win of the upstart program's history with a 3-2 decision in the second half of a double-dual match against Stetson on Wednesday afternoon at the Stetson Sand Volleyball Complex.
After being swept 5-0 in the first half of the twinbill, Tulane bounced back to capture victories at No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 action in the nightcap. With the split, the Green Wave improve to 1-5 on the year. Stetson, meanwhile, is now 2-2.
"I couldn't be more excited for the girls," acting Tulane head coach Jaye Loyd said. "They deserved this win. I am proud of the progress they have made in this short time period. It is great to see them reaping the benefits of their hard work.
"The girls are starting to play a lot smarter. They are paying closer attention to their opponents' tendencies and taking note of what is and is not working. After the first match, the girls had time to reflect on their play and what they could have done differently. They strategized from their experiences and executed in the second dual."
While the Green Wave dropped the opener, Tulane did accomplish something it hadn't in the previous four matches as the team picked up its first individual-set victories. Lilly Wolfe and Anna Wruck were the first to accomplish the feat with a 21-17 opening set win over Stetson's Alisha Hoffman and Katie DiGirolamo in No. 3 play. The Hatters' duo, however, rallied to win the next two frames 21-16 and 15-8. Tulane's Azarri Badawi and Olivia Utt also won their first set with a 21-19 victory over Stetson's No. 4 tandem of Savannah Byle and Kaylee Ream, but as what happened on Court 3, the Hatters rallied for 21-16 and 15-8 decisions the rest of the way to earn the point.
"I am starting to see more and more light-bulb moments," Loyd said of the Green Wave's improvement from the start of the sand season. "They are learning and taking things away from each game they play. The girls are starting to look more comfortable in the sand and in turn having more fun while they are playing."
In the second half of the double-dual, Tulane would not be denied. Wolfe and Wruck became the first Tulane tandem to score a team point as the pair swept Hoffman and DiGirolamo 21-18, 21-17 in No. 3 play. Tulane's No. 1 and No. 5 tandems of Martone and Weaver along with Arora and Amber Bennett had to work overtime, but both came away with three-set wins.
After dropping the opening set to top team of Melville and Rygh, 21-8, Martone and Weaver rallied to tie the match with a 21-17 set-two win and rolled in the final frame, 15-8. Arora and Bennett, meanwhile, dropped their No. 5 play opener to Marin and Taylor Kennedy, 21-12, but outlasted the Hatters' duo 24-22 and 16-14 the rest of the way to clinch the win.
Bassett and Stonish swept Dragovic and Osuna on Court 2 - 21-8, 21-9 - while Byl and Ream downed Badawi and Utt on Court 4 - 21-12, 21-9 - to account for the final score.
The Green Wave will enjoy a two-week break before heading to Birmingham, Ala., to square off against UAB on April 6. From there, Tulane will travel to Macon, Ga., to play Mercer on April 7. First service times for both matches have yet to be determined.
MATCH 1: STETSON (2-1) DEFEATS TULANE (0-5), 5-0
No. 1: Kaley Melville / Maren Rygh (STET) def. Cori Martone / Grace Weaver (TLN) - 21-15, 18-21, 15-11
No. 2: Julie Bassett / Alexa Stonish (STET) def. Milena Dragovic / Nikki Osuna (TLN) - 21-16, 21-13
No. 3: Alisha Hoffman / Katie DiGirolamo (STET) def. Lilly Wolfe / Anna Wruck (TLN) - 17-21, 21-19, 16-14
No. 4: Savannah Byl / Kaylee Ream (STET) def. Azarri Badawi / Olivia Utt (TLN) - 19-21, 21-16, 15-8
No. 5: Claudia Kalin / Stephanie Marin (STET) def. Shefali Arora / Milica Jovic (TLN) - 21-18, 21-12
MATCH 2: TULANE (1-5) DEFEATS STETSON (2-2), 3-2
No. 1: Cori Martone / Grace Weaver (TLN) def. Kaley Melville / Maren Rygh (STET) - 18-21, 21-17, 15-8
No. 2: Julie Bassett / Alexa Stonish (STET) def. Milena Dragovic / Nikki Osuna (TLN) - 21-8, 21-9
No. 3: Lilly Wolfe / Anna Wruck (TLN) def. Alisha Hoffman / Katie DiGirolamo (STET) - 21-18, 21-17
No. 4: Savannah Byl / Kaylee Ream (STET) def. Azarri Badawi / Olivia Utt (TLN) - 21-12, 21-9
No. 5: Shefali Arora / Amber Bennett (TLN) def. Taylor Kennedy / Stephanie Marin (STET) - 12-21, 24-22, 16-14