Freshman Miah Diirell teamed with Sarah Strasner to post an opening-round win over ULM's Rachel Arnason and Alannah Collum on Saturday at Coconut Beach.
April 5, 2014
KENNER, La. - The Tulane University sand volleyball team combined for six wins, including semifinals appearances by both freshman Tea Juric and Jackie Wegner as well as rookie Hannah Holmes and Anna Wruck, as the Green Wave wrapped up the Tulane Pelican Classic with a pairs tournament on Saturday at Coconut Beach.
Despite cool condition along with some heavy rains and lightning - which caused multiple stops in play during the day - the Green Wave persevered and put together a performance that drew praise from first-year head coach Wayne Holly. The pairs tournament comes one day after Tulane posted a 5-0 dual-match win over UAB while defeating Webber International, 4-1.
"Our teams improved again as a result of playing in this event," Holly said. "We are able to gather more data and gain more valuable experience in a very competitive environment. The weather helped as well. Playing in the cold rain today undoubtedly was a challenge for the players - and one that will make us better in the future.
"I think the players did a very nice job of repeatedly coming back from rain and lightning breaks to compete in suspended matches. The mentality required to do that is a tough thing to develop so I am grateful that the conditions created that opportunity today."
Playing in the Upper Division Bracket, which was a double-elimination event, Juric and Wegner opened the day with a 22-20, 21-15 win over UAB's Sam Serley and Alison Woods, but were sent to the losers' bracket after dropping a 21-13, 21-17 decision to ULM's Marcela Arya and Zuzna Markova.
With the way the bracket was set up, the Green Wave duo were forced to face teammates Annie Shurtz and Grace Weaver - who bounced back from a 23-21, 17-21, 15-8 opening round loss to UAB's Kiriana Hirini and Bethanie Thomas with a 2-116, 21-15 win over Webber's Taylor Eiken and Katie Lindstrom - Juric and Wegner advanced with a 21-13, 21-12 win. The partners' run, however, came to an end one as Araya and Markova posted their second win of the day over the Tulane team by a score of 21-12, 17-21, 15-10.
In the Lower Division Bracket (single elimination), the freshman team of Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner opened with a 21-17, 22-20 win over ULM's Rachel Arnason and Alannah Cullum before falling to UAB's Rachel Fairbanks and Sarah Rishell in the quarterfinals, 21-12, 21-17. Tulane also got a quarterfinal win by Holmes and Wruck - who received a first-round bye - over Webber International's Brittany Mock and Alida Schat before falling in the semifinals to Fairbanks and Rishell.
"It was a successful weekend in terms of our goals," Holly said. "We earned two dual victories on Friday against very competitive programs and each of our pairs gained more experience developing tactics in-game and evaluating them throughout the match.
"I am seeing growth on a daily basis for our players and am very happy with that. I am proud of the way the players represented themselves as a team this weekend in our final home event of the season. We are putting more and more pressure on players to implement in-game strategies and the progress is steadily moving us in the right direction. Our young roster will benefit greatly from these experiences."
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.