April 12, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University sand volleyball team will head to Florida for a busy weekend of intercollegiate competition as the Green Wave will sandwich head-to-head matchups with Florida Gulf Coast and Webber International around the Fiesta at Siesta Key Tournament.
Friday's competition against Florida Gulf Coast is slated for 11 a.m. in Siesta Key while Sunday's match against Webber State will begin at a time to be determined in Tampa. The Fiesta at Siesta Key, meanwhile, will take place on Saturday with a host of teams participating with matches set up in tournament format.
"It will be our first time playing on an actual beach so things will be different," Tulane acting head coach Jaye Loyd said of her team's two-day stint in Siesta Key. "The sand will probably be deeper than we are used to playing in so the girls will have to work especially hard in defense and adjust to the obstacles of playing in a new type of sand."
The Green Wave enter the weekend 1-8 on the year and looking to snap a three-match skid dating back to the beginning of the month. In its last outing, Tulane dropped a pair of matches as the Wave fell 5-0 to College of Charleston and 3-2 to Mercer on April 7.
The losses, however, have been by narrow margins and Loyd said she looks forward to seeing her team provide different outcomes over the weekend with a few key moments during play.
"The girls have to want it," Loyd said of her team's attempt to come away with wins. "They are a very athletic, smart and talented bunch. Showcasing their strengths cohesively at game time has been our biggest challenge this season. We play well for bunches of points, but struggle to sustain consistently and execute matches."
Against Mercer last Saturday, Olivia Utt and Azarri Badawi won their opening set against Emily Rochefort and Madison Petsos in No. 4 action, 21-17, before the Bears' tandem rallied to knot the match at one set each with a 21-18 decision in the second stanza. Tulane came away with the point, however, as the Green Wave duo won the final frame, 15-12. Amber Bennett and Shefali Arora, meanwhile, posted a straight-set win in No. 5 play by the score of 21-17, 21-12
"Amber and Shefali have improved immensely this season," Loyd added. "That is why we moved them up from the No. 5 to the No. 4 spot. They always out-hustle their opponents and work as hard as they possibly can every day in practice."
Sunday's match against Webber International is the Green Wave's final regular-season contest until the AVCA Championships, which are slated for April 27 in Gulf Shores, Ala.