March 26, 2014
KENNER, La. - The weather on Wednesday afternoon at Coconut Beach was cool and windy, but nothing Mother Nature had up her sleeve could hold down the Green Wave as the Tulane University sand volleyball team defeated in-state rival LSU, 3-2, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools on the dunes.
With Tulane playing in its third season as a sand program and LSU in its inaugural campaign, the Green Wave may have had an advantage in experience when the two teams squared off. The bigger difference, however, may have been handling the elements.
"It ended up being an advantage for us," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said of playing in a steady breeze. "We practiced yesterday in these same conditions, and the forecast was that it was going to be windy today. We had an idea of what direction the wind was coming from and were able to practice around it.
"I'm very happy with the way the team played and I'm very happy for them. I think our practice paid off. One of the biggest differences is we had a little bit better offense today - that was one of the things that we've really been working on - and our serving was better. We were more aggressive. We had our players try and make the opponents move around more and create opportunities, and they did that to perfection."
Tulane got things going early on, winning at both No. 4 and No. 5 to give the Green Wave a 2-0 lead before the top pairs tandems even began their warm-ups. The Wave scored their first point of the afternoon at No. 4 where sophomore Courtney Liddle and junior Olivia Utt posted a 21-18, 21-16 win over Malorie Pardo and Laura Whalen.
The No. 5 team of freshmen Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner dropped their opening set to Emma Hiller and Briana Holman, 21-19, before bouncing back to tie the set with a 21-18 second-set victory before running away in the final frame, 15-7.
"Those were huge wins down at four and five," Holly said. "They players know and they understand a win at five is as good as win at one or a win at two. It's not about what number. It's about trying to put together three wins for our program. Those were huge wins because when we get two wins to start the session, that takes a little pressure off the other three teams and allows them to be a little more relaxed."
LSU cut the Green Wave lead in half on Court 2 where Helen Boyle and Kaitlin Hatcher posted a straight-sets (21-19, 21-18) win over freshman Annie Shurtz and Grace Weaver, but Tulane's top team of freshman Tea Juric and sophomore Jackie Wegner quickly returned the favor with a 21-15, 21-18 win over Katie Lindelow and Meghan Mannari to clinched the team victory.
With the match already decided, all eyes moved to Court 3 where the Tulane tandem of freshman Hannah Holmes and junior Anna Wruck bounced back from a 21-16, opening-set loss to Victoria Boraski and Cati Leak to tie the match with a 21-18 decision in set No. 2. Boraski and Leak, however, rallied from a 5-all tie with a 10-3 run over the final 13 serves to account for the final score.
"Today was fun," Holly added. "It was a great to be out here. I appreciate all the Tulane fans and of course the folks from LSU - I don't know how many people were out here, but it was fun. It was fun to have a lot of noise out here on the courts and it was a great environment."
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, March 29, when they will play an intrasquad at Coconut Beach before hosting UAB and Webber International next weekend in the Tulane Pelican Classic. The Green Wave open the two-day event on Friday, April 4, when they take on UAB at 11 a.m. UAB will face Webber International at 12:45 p.m. and Tulane will close out dual-match play against Webber International at 2:30 p.m. From there, the three teams will square off in a pairs tournament on Saturday with bracket and format yet to be announced.
TULANE GREEN WAVE (3-3) DEFEAT LSU LADY TIGERS (2-4): 3-2
No. 1: Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) def. Katie Lindelow / Meghan Mannari (LSU) - 21-15, 21-18
No. 2: Helen Boyle / Kaitlin Hatcher (LSU) def. Annie Shurtz / Grace Weaver (TLN) - 21-19, 21-18
No. 3: Victoria Boraski / Cati Leak (LSU) def. Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) - 21-16, 18-21, 15-8
No. 4: Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) def. Malorie Pardo / Laura Whalen (LSU) - 21-18, 21-16
No. 5: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Emma Hiller / Briana Holman (LSU) - 19-21, 21-18, 15-7