Jackie Wegner (left) and Tea Juric (right) opened the 2014 AVCA College Sand Volleyball National Championship with a 1-1 pairs play performance on Friday.
May 2, 2014
GULF SHORES, Ala. - Sophomore Jackie Wegner and freshman Tea Juric opened the 2014 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) College Sand Volleyball National Championship in fine fashion on Friday with a 1-1 showing in the "Best of the Rest" pairs competition.
With the split, Juric and Wegner improve to 19-13 on the year, including a 9-8 mark in pairs play. The duo, which is one of five pairs in Pool B and one of 10 tandems participating in the Best of the Rest event will close out pool play on Saturday with a spot in the championship bracket on the line.
"We're playing our best volleyball of the season right now, which is exactly what we wanted," first-year Tulane head coach Wayne Holly said. "I liked our consistency today. We need to keep it up tomorrow and work hard to get two more wins. If we do, we should advance."
Juric and Wegner - the first Tulane pair to earn a spot in the AVCA postseason - started the day on a high note, downing Grand Canyon's 21-13 in the opening set. After dropping the second frame, 21-15, the Green Wave squad rallied from an early third-set deficit to come away with a 15-13 win.
In the tandem's second contest of the day, Juric and Wegner dropped a straight-sets contest to Tyler Jackson and Janisa Johnson of Long Beach State, 21-15 and 21-14.
"In the match against Grand Canyon, we served effectively in the wind and sided out well enough to win," Holly said. "Our sideout game has steadily improved for weeks and the work is paying off. Tea is blocking very well right now as well and Jackie has been working hard at her defense. That allowed us to generate some points defensively as well, which was critical in the third set when we fell behind early.
"We played very well against Long Beach State as well. Actually, we did not see a drop off in our performance. If anything, we served even tougher in terms of executing our strategy. The difference really is that Long Beach passed the ball at a superior level and we just couldn't get them out of system. As a result, we couldn't quite match their sideout game and fell short in each set by three or four plays. We played good volleyball. Long Beach just played a little bit better."
Juric and Wegner return to action on Saturday with a 9 a.m. showdown against North Florida's Dagnija Medina and Kim Hildreth before closing out pool play against St. Mary's Jordan Shaw and Samantha Tinsley at 10 a.m.
The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Sunday's bracketed championship tournament where they will join the six top pairs from the team championship and the top two from the four semifinalists, and a play-in contest will be held for the final two positions.
First-round matches for the Pairs Championship will start at 8 a.m. (CDT) with semifinals slated for noon and the championship scheduled for 2 p.m. The AVCA College Sand Volleyball National Championship will be covered by CBS Sports Network with two-hour specials airing on May 26 at 6 p.m., May 30 at 6:30 p.m. and June 2 and 6 p.m.