April 4, 2014
KENNER, La. - The Tulane University sand volleyball team opened the 2014 Tulane Pelican Classic in fine fashion as the Green Wave defeated UAB in the opener, 5-0, before downing Webber International, 4-1, on Friday at Coconut Beach.
With the two wins, Tulane improves to 5-3 on the year and a perfect 3-0 in home matches. The Tulane Pelican Classic continues on Saturday with a two-tiered pairs tournament. Each team's No. 1 and No. 2 tandems will play in a double-elimination tournament for the Upper Bracket title while the four programs' 3s, 4s and 5s will do battle in a one-set, single-elimination tournament. The pairs tournament is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. with each bracket's final match slated for approximately 3:30 p.m.
"Two wins in one day is great for us," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said. "This is the first time we've done that this year. I'm most happy with the way we played, though. We tried to stress results today. At this point in the season, we want to move away from process and get results, and we did that. We also saw some things come out in play that we had been working on this week. It was awesome job by the girls and I'm happy for them."
The Green Wave got things off on a good note as sophomore Courtney Liddle and junior Olivia Utt posted a 21-13, 21-13 win over Becca Howard and Lindsay Simmons on Court 4 to stake Tulane to a 1-0 lead over UAB. Rookies Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner followed suit with a 21-19, 21-16 victory over Ally Slaughter and Amber Treace in No. 5 play, and freshman Hannah Holmes teamed with junior Anna Wruck to clinch the team win with a 21-17, 21-15 decision over Rachel Fairbanks and Sara Rishell at No. 3.
"What happened [against UAB] was our 4 and 5 won in the first session," Holly said. "That takes some pressure off the 1s, 2s and 3s and what that does, like any other athlete, is allows them to play with a little less pressure and lets some of their skills come out. It's always great when our 4s and 5s win. Even in the second match, we split and that takes a lot of the pressure off. Everyone is playing good volleyball right now and we need to make sure we can get better over the course of the next week."
It was a different story against Webber International, however, as the Warriors pushed the Green Wave to the brink on each of the top three spots in the line-up. The two teams split the opening-two matches as Diirell and Strasner downed Briawna Mueller and Chelsea Umana 21-13 in the opening set before working overtime to come away with a 31-29 second-set win while Liddle and Utt fell to Brittany Mock and Schat by identical scores of 22-20.
Tulane appeared to be in control of things in the opening sets of No. 1-3 action as Juric and Wegner opened with a 21-15 win over Helene Rahcoula and Tara Sandbeck, Shurtz and Weaver rolled past Taylor Eiken and Katie Lindstrom, and Homes and Wruck edged Elizabeth Eddy and Michelle Einzinger 21-17. The Warriors turned the tables in the second set as Rahcoula and Sandbeck tied things up with a 21-11 win, Eiken and Lindstrom rallied for a 21-19 win while Eddy and Einzinger posted a 21-16 victory.
Holmes and Utt gave Tulane it second point of the match with 15-9 third-set win and all eyes turned to the top two courts. The Green Wave were down Juric and Wegner were down 14-12 and the tandem of Shurtz and Weaver sat deadlocked at 13-all, but posted respective finals of 16-14 and 15-13 to account for the final score.
"I was a little nervous there," Holly said. "The biggest thing that comes out of this is that a couple of weeks ago in Arizona we lost two duals where we don't get results in the third sets. This time, we got all the results in the third set. It seems that we've been able to play a little bit more under pressure, which is something we talked about at the beginning of the year. We were just executing really well down the stretch. The ability to make some plays when the pressure is on is huge for us and I'm proud of the girls for doing that."
Following Saturday's pairs tournament, the Green Wave return to action on Tuesday, April 8, when they travel to Monroe, La., to face ULM. From there, Tulane heads to the Sunshine State where the Wave will play Florida State on April 11 before opening play in in the Fiesta at Siesta Key on April 12.
TULANE GREEN WAVE (4-3) DEFEAT UAB BLAZERS (2-7): 5-0
No. 1: Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) def. Kiriana Hirini / Bethanie Thomas (UAB) - 21-18, 25-23
No. 2: Annie Shurtz / Grace Weaver (TLN) def. Alison Woods / Sam Serley (UAB) - 21-19, 18-21, 17-15
No. 3: Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) def. Rachel Fairbanks / Sara Rishell (UAB) - 21-17, 21-15
No. 4: Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) def. Becca Howard / Lindsay Simmons (UAB) - 21-13, 21-13
No. 5: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Ally Slaughter / Amber Treace (UAB) - 21-19, 21-16
Order of Finish 4,5,3,1,2
TULANE GREEN WAVE (5-3) DEFEAT WEBBER INTERNATIONAL WARRIORS (4-1): 4-1
No. 1: Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) def. Helene Rahcoula / Tara Sandbeck (WEB) - 21-15, 11-21, 16-14
No. 2: Annie Shurtz / Grace Weaver (TLN) def. Taylor Eiken / Katie Lindstrom (WEB) - 21-13, 19-21, 15-13
No. 3: Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) def. Elizabeth Eddy / Michelle Einzinger (WEB) - 21-17, 16-21, 15-9
No. 4: Brittany Mock / Alida Schat (WEB) def. Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) - 22-20, 22-20
No. 5: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Briawna Mueller / Chelsea Umana (WEB) - 21-13, 31-29
Order of Finish: 4,5,3,1,2