March 28, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University sand volleyball program returns to action over the weekend when the Green Wave travel to Miami for the Doctors Hospital FIU Surf & Turf Tournament at the FIU Sand Courts.
Tulane opens tournament play on Friday with a 9:45 a.m. (CDT) showdown against Florida Atlantic. From there, the Green Wave will take on host Florida International on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. before squaring off against Pepperdine and Georgia State at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., respectively that same day. The five-team tournament concludes on Sunday with five participating teams taking part in a pairs tournament.
"We haven't played in the sand much the last couple of weeks, but I think the girls are excited," Tulane head sand volleyball coach Alan Segal said. "They're excited to play sand volleyball and they're having fun doing it. They're competitive and they want to win, so they'll work hard at it. I've said it from the beginning, we want to have fun, we want to enjoy our training, we want to be competitive and play the best we can play.
"We have a goal that every time we step on the court to play better than we did the last time. That's all we can do, hope to play better every single time we play. Obviously, the competition is going to be a little stronger this weekend so we're going to have to step up and play. If we can go out, play competitive and be good, you never know what's going to happen."
The Green Wave head to Miami 4-1 on the year with their lone loss coming in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of ULM in the opening match of the Tulane Pelican Classic. Tulane previously posted a 4-1 win over Mercer and a 3-2 win over UAB from Marcy 9-10 at the UAB Tournament while following up the one-point loss the Warhawks with 3-2 victories over UAB and Stetson on March 16 and 17, respectively.
Junior Azarri Badawi is a perfect 5-0 on the young season, teaming with sophomore Grace Weaver to go 3-0 and joining forces with freshman Jackie Wegner to post a 2-0 record. All five of her matches have come in the No. 4 position. Rookie Mackenzie Moore and sophomore Olivia Utt are second on the team with a 4-1 record in No. 5 action. As a team, the Green Wave are 3-2 at No. 1, 2-3 at No. 2, 1-4 at No. 3, 5-0 at No. 4 and 4-1 at No. 5.
All four matches over the weekend will be against first-time foes and Saturday's slate looks to be an especially challenging one for the Green Wave as Pepperdine is the defending AVCA National Champion and sit atop the current poll in 2013 while Florida International enters the weekend ranked No. 6.
The Waves are 6-0 on the year and coming off a 4-1 win over No. 4 USC on Tuesday. The Pepperdine duo of Lilla Fredericka and Kim Hill are a perfect 9-0 on the year, including a 5-0 mark in dual-match action, while the No. 2 team of Lara Dykstra and Caitlin Racich and the No. 3 tandem of Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever are both 4-0 at their respective spots in the line-up.
The Panthers, meanwhile, enter the weekend 3-3 and fresh off a 5-0 sweep of Webber International. .FIU's top duo of Kate Stepanova and Ksenia Sukhareva is a perfect 8-0 on the year (4-0 dual, 4-0 pairs) while the No. 2 team of Maryna Samoday and Jessica Mendoza sport an overall mark of 7-1 (4-0 duals, 3-1 pairs).
"I think it's good to play better competition," Segal added. "FIU and Pepperdine are both ranked in the Top 10 in the poll. It will be good for the girls to see that kind of competition. I don't know a lot about FAU and Georgia State, but I think we should be competitive with those teams. I think this is a good tournament for us to see how good we can play and how much talent we have."
After two days of dual matches, Tulane will join the tournament field in pairs play on Sunday. Each team's tandems will be paired up with their counterparts from other programs and a single-elimination tournament will begin at 7 a.m. (CDT).
Following the Doctors Hospital FIU Surf & Turf Tournament, the Green Wave will head to Atlanta for the Georgia State Sand Invitational from April 6-7. Tulane will conclude the regular season at the Fiesta at Siesta Tournament from April 12-14 in Siesta Key, Fla.