April 27, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Tulane University sand volleyball team closed out the 2014 season in fine fashion, thanks in no small part to the bottom of the lineup, as the Green Wave posted 3-2 wins over both ULM and UAB on Sunday afternoon at the UAB Sand Courts.
The Wave's No. 4 tandem of sophomore Courtney Liddle and junior Olivia Utt as well as the No. 5 pair of freshmen Miah Diirell and Sarah Strasner both posted a pair of wins to spearhead the Tulane effort. The wins come one day after dropping a 5-0 decision to No. 10 Georgia State and were separated on Sunday by a couple of delays caused by inclement weather. The Green Wave conclude its third campaign in the dunes with an 8-7 record.
"We were disappointed in our performance on Saturday and met this morning to remind ourselves of how we want to conduct ourselves as a team," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said. "Today saw a return to one of our guiding principles. We demonstrated a workman-like attitude in competing today and grinding out some tough wins in some wet and challenging weather. Two wins in one day will make the long ride home feel a little shorter."
Diirell and Strasner scored Tulane's first point of the day by defeating ULM's Celine Flores and Kaitlyn Shearer, 21-10 and 21-9 while Liddle and Utt gave the Green Wave a 2-0 lead against the Warhawks by rallying from a 21-19 opening-set loss to Rachel Arnason and Alannah Cullum with victories of 21-10 and 15-7.
It was a similar story in the second match of the day, and this time it was Liddle and Utt posting the team's first win with a 21-17, 21-10 decision over UAB's Gabby Deshotel and Becca Howard. Diirell and Strasner, meanwhile, posted consecutive 21-14 wins over Ally Slaughter and Amber Treace to help set up Tulane's second victory of the day.
Following Tulane's wins at No. 4 and No. 5, ULM cut the deficit in half as the top tandem of Marcela Araya and Zuzana Markova defeated sophomore Jackie Wegner and Tea Juric by scores of 21-16 and 21-12. Junior Anna Wruck and freshman Hannah Holmes, however, halted any talks of a Warhawks comeback as the pair posted a 21-13, 25-27, 15-10 win over Hope Pawlik and Hadley Swartz on Court 3 to put the match away. Tulane had a chance to win by three as senior Amber Bennett and freshman Annie Shurtz opened with a 21-16 win over Michelle McNamee and Bianca Ocana before dropping the next two 21-17 and 15-7.
In the contest against UAB, Tulane had to wait a bit after its wins at 4 and 5 as rain halted the action and the teams had to wait for a break in the weather. The stoppage of play halted the Green Wave's momentum momentarily and the Blazers took advantage to tie the match at 2-2.
Sam Serley and Alison Woods defeated Bennett and Shurtz for UAB's first point of the contest, and Rachel Fairbanks and Sara Rishell logged a 22-20, 21-14 victory over Holmes and Wruck to shift the attention to No. 1 play. Juric and Wegner were up to the challenge and posted a 21-18, 21-19 win over Kiriana Hirini and Bethanie Thomas to spark the Tulane celebration.
"We showed good balance again in our lineups with wins at four of the five flights and were able to pick up our teammates well when one or another pair didn't win," Holly added. "Our No. 1 pair of Tea and Jackie were able to get a great win against UAB with the dual on the line when we stumbled on the No. 3 court, and our No. 3 pair of Hannah and Anna were able to win for our team when our No. 1 faltered against ULM. That's the essence of a team sport. You compete for your teammates and to make a contribution to the whole knowing that everyone else is doing the same."
While Sunday's wins marked the final team competitions for the Green Wave, the season will continue for Juric and Wegner as the tandem was one of 10 doubles teams identified as "The Best of the Rest" from programs not included in the team portion of the championship tournament. The AVCA College Sand Volleyball National Championship will take place from May 2-4 in Gulf Shores, Ala.
TULANE GREEN WAVE (7-7) DEFEAT ULM WARHAWKS (5-10): 3-2
No. 1: Marcela Araya / Zuzana Markova (ULM) def. Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) - 21-6, 21-12
No. 2: Michelle McNamee / Bianca Ocana (ULM) def. Amber Bennett / Annie Shurtz (TLN) - 16-21, 21-18, 15-7
No. 3: Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) def. Hope Pawlik / Hadley Swartz (ULM) - 21-13, 25-27, 15-10
No. 4: Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) def. Rachel Arnason / Alannah Cullum (ULM) - 19-21, 21-10, 15-7
No. 5: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Celine Flores / Kaitlyn Shearer (ULM) - 21-10, 21-9
TULANE GREEN WAVE (8-7) DEFEAT UAB BLAZERS (5-9): 3-2
No. 1: Tea Juric / Jackie Wegner (TLN) def. Kiriana Hirini / Bethanie Thomas (UAB) - 21-18, 21-19
No. 2: Sam Serley / Alison Woods (UAB) def. Amber Bennett / Annie Shurtz (TLN) - 21-11, 21-12
No. 3: Rachel Fairbanks / Sara Rishell (UAB) def. Hannah Holmes / Anna Wruck (TLN) - 22-20, 21-14
No. 4: Courtney Liddle / Olivia Utt (TLN) def. Gabby Deshotel / Becca Howard (UAB) - 21-17, 21-10
No. 5: Miah Diirell / Sarah Strasner (TLN) def. Ally Slaughter / Amber Treace (UAB) - 21-14, 21-14