Nov. 2, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's swimming and diving team returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 3, when the Green Wave travel to Nashville, Tenn., for a double-dual meet against Western Kentucky and host Vanderbilt. The meet is slated to start at 11 a.m. at the Centennial Sportsplex.
The contest against the Commodores and Hilltoppers is the final dual-meet formatted competition the Green Wave will face during the fall season as Tulane will wrap up pre-spring play with championship-format action at the UH Cougar Classic from Nov. 15-17 in Houston.
"I've been very pleased with the way we've come together as a team and performed," Tulane swimming and diving interim head coach T.J. Natal said. "We had a couple of little mistakes in our North Texas meet and a couple more in the LSU meet, but it's been a little bit of a learning process for us. Overall, I've been really with the happy with the way we've practiced and performed in meets.
"We're looking to fine tune some of the small areas, especially the areas where we've made some mistakes in the past. Western Kentucky brings in a high-priority team for us, and it gives us an opportunity to see really, really fast and competitive teams at the Cougar Classic. The invite list was just released and four of the top 15 teams in the country will be at that meet. This is a good meet, coming off of LSU, to once again make sure the competition is there and to get the girls ready for the Cougar Classic."
Tulane heads to Nashville 1-2 on the year and looking to snap a two-meet skid after dropping a hard-fought 158-6-141-5 decision to North Texas on Oct. 20 and falling to nationally-ranked LSU 174-69 last Friday.
During the first three meets of the season, Tulane has posted 16 first-place showings, 24 second-place finishes and 21 third-place touches in individual events. Junior Rachel Ranson has been a standout for the team to date, posting four individual victories and anchoring three relay teams that posted top times in the respective meets.
Vanderbilt has been a common opponent for the Green Wave and Tulane has enjoyed success against the Commodores with a 3-0 head-to-head record. In addition to last year's 155-125 win at the Reily Center, Tulane earned a narrow 133-129 decision at Vanderbilt on Feb. 5, 2011, and a 183-89 victory on Feb. 6, 2010, in New Orleans.
The Commodores enter Saturday's double-dual meet 0-2 overall with losses to SEC foes LSU and Alabama, and came in fifth at the Arkansas Relays back on Oct. 6 in Fayetteville, Ark. In its last outing, Vanderbilt posted five individual victories, including wins by Jenn Mann in the 100 and 200 breast.
"It's definitely been a good rivalry over the past couple of years," Natal said. "We've been on the winning side of that, and this year (Vanderbilt) has definitely retooled with some really good freshmen so it'll be a little bit more of a competitive meet this time around. I think it's going to come down to who makes the little mistakes, who doesn't, and who takes advantage of the other team when they make those mistakes."
Western Kentucky, meanwhile, enters the weekend 1-0 with a 188-83 win over Delta State back on Oct. 13. The Hilltoppers will compete against Northwestern and Illinois-Chicago on Friday before heading to Nashville.
Following the meet against Delta State, WKU's Caitlin Dean and Allie Duff claimed Sun Belt Conference Diver and Swimmer of the Week honors, respectively. Dean took top scores in both board levels, scoring a 310.73 in the one-meter and a 278.76 on the three-meter. Duff swept the backstroke events with a 56.88 in the 100 and a 2:00.72 in the 200.
Tulane is 0-1 all-time against the Hilltoppers, falling 99-62 on Dec. 4, 2009, at the UNO Lakefront Aquatic Center.
"I've had a lit bit of experience with them the past couple of years," Natal added. "I know their coach from a couple of years ago and they swim a lot on intimidation. They come into the pool with a lot of swagger and a lot of confidence in themselves. Something I've got to witness is them being able to intimidate other teams. It's something we've kind of tried to prepare for a little bit and we've made our girls aware of that as we walk into the building to swim against them."
Following the trip to Vanderbilt and the upcoming UH Cougar Classic, the Green Wave open the spring portion of their schedule on Saturday, Jan. 5, when they head to the West Coast to participate in the University of San Diego Relays.