Acting head coach Jaye Loyd and the Tulane sand volleyball program will make their debut on Monday when the Green Wave play host to Florida State.
March 4, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - A new chapter of Tulane Athletics history will begin on Monday, March 5, when the Green Wave women's sand volleyball program makes its debut against Florida State at Coconut Beach Volleyball Courts at The Dock In Slidell. The match is slated to begin at 4 p.m., and admission is free.
The 2012 sand volleyball season not only marks the first year the NCAA officially sponsors the sport, but also the final chapter of Tulane's return to full strength athletically as the Green Wave are fielding 16 sport programs for the first time since 2005-06.
"Monday is going to be a significant day for Tulane University and the sport of sand volleyball," acting head coach Jaye Loyd said. "All of these girls will be a part of history as they compete in the first-ever sand volleyball season and first-ever Tulane sand volleyball match. In doing this, Tulane will also be back up to full capacity at 16 sports. It has been a long time coming and the University has a lot to be proud of."
Taking the court for the Green Wave on Monday will be senior Nikki Osuna, junior Lilly Wolfe, sophomores Azarri Badawi, Milena Dragovic, Mel Mandelbaum and Cori Martone, as well as freshmen Amber Bennett, Madison Nieberlein, Chloe Tom, Olivia Utt, Grace Weaver and Anna Wruck.
While the Tulane squad has yet to take the court as a sand program, the student-athletes have all played vital roles in the indoor game. Martone stands as the most decorated Green Wave player to take the court for the home team on Monday after claiming first-team All-Louisiana and second-team All-Conference USA honors in Fall 2011 while being named C-USA Freshman of the Year and second-team all-state recognition in 2010. Wruck was tabbed second-team all-state and claimed a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team, while Osuna was named honorable-mention All-Louisiana in the fall.
"Ever since we returned from winter break in January, the girls have been asking, `When are we going to play in the sand...when is our first game?' Loyd said. "As the girls made the transition from indoor to sand, they have been constantly learning the differences in skill sets needed and differing strategies used in the sand vs. on the court. Playing outside is an excellent change of pace for the girls and they really seem to enjoy the challenges of playing in the sand. We have been extremely fortunate with great weather these last few weeks and sand practices have been lively."
Florida State, meanwhile, comes to town 1-0 after defeating UAB in the first-ever NCAA sand volleyball match, 5-0, on Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. In that match, the Seminoles posted straight-set wins in four of the five courts and claimed a 2-1 victory in No. 4 action to complete the sweep.
FSU will feature a pair of players familiar to Green Wave fans as Visnja Drurdjevic and Marija Milosavljevic played for Tulane from 2008-09 and 2009, respectively, before transferring to the Tallahassee, Fla., institution.
Monday's match is the first of two home competitions for the Green Wave this season as Tulane will play host to UAB on Saturday, March 10. Prior to that competition, Tulane will hold a special pre-match ceremony featuring speeches by several Department of Athletics dignitaries to welcome the new program to the Green Wave fold.
From there, Tulane will play at Florida State on March 13, at Stetson on March 14, at UAB on April 6, at Mercer on April 7 and at Florida Gulf Coast on April 13. The Green Wave will close out the regular season on April 14 when they participate in the Siesta Key (Fla.) Tournament. The 2012 AVCA Championship is slated for April 27 in Gulf Shores, Ala.
"The 2012 schedule gives us an opportunity to play quite a few different schools at multiple venues throughout Florida, Georgia and Alabama," Loyd added. "We are playing with a highly-competitive group of girls with a desire to win matches. We hope to have all or some of our teams qualify for the championships in Gulf Shores come the end of April. This first season is huge for the sport of sand volleyball and I hope to catch the attention and gain the support of spectators in the New Orleans area."
Each sand volleyball competition will consist of five matches between pairs. The winning team will need to win three matches in a best-of-five format. The separate matches will be conducted as best-of-three-set competitions, with rally scoring to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third. Teams must win by at least two points in all cases.
The Green Wave are one of 15 schools competing in the first season of collegiate sand volleyball. As an emerging sport, sand volleyball has 10 years to gain the minimum of 40 sponsoring institutions for two years in a row, required to be considered an NCAA Championship competition. During the second year of 40 teams, the NCAA will host a national championship.
The Dock Of Slidell is located at 118 Harbor View Court in Slidell, La. To get there from New Orleans, fans can take the Highway 11 Bridge across Lake Pontchartrain, take Lakeview Drive (Rats Nest Road) to Harbor View Court. For additional information on and the amenities provided by the facility, contact The Dock of Slidell at 985-645-3625.