2008 is Kritza's Fourth Season at Tulane (48-33)
Entering her fourth season as head coach of the Tulane volleyball program in 2008, Liz Kritza has brought the Green Wave to national prominence. After leading the team through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in her first season, Kritza's squad has matured into a team garnering national attention.
Along the way, Green Wave student-athletes racked up an impressive list of accolades and awards: five AVCA All-America selections (including three in 2007), two AVCA Midwest and Conference USA Freshmen of the Year, nine All-Louisiana honors (including the 2007 LSWA Player of the Year, Sara Radosevic), 11 All-Conference USA Team selections, two Tulane Student-Athlete of the Year awards, 20 student-athletes on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, and two C-USA Commissoner's Academic Medals, as well as being named the 2006-07 Team of the Year by the Tulane Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
The 2007 Tulane team finished 28-6 overall, with its best-ever Conference USA finish and highest-ever RPI rating (32nd). The Green Wave were among those receiving votes in the final AVCA Coaches Poll, placing 30th. And with all 13 players returning from 2007, Tulane seems to be on the cusp of this season's top 25.
Undefeated at home in 2007, the Green Wave's 13-3 non-conference mark included a 4-2 record against those who made the NCAA Tournament the previous season.
After a 14-2 C-USA mark gave Tulane second place, the Wave had topped their best-ever C-USA finish and win total for the second straight-year. Tulane's 3-2 win at a regionally-ranked LSU squad in their last game of the season appeared to put the Wave on the brink of its first-ever NCAA appearance, but Tulane ended up as the highest-rated team left out.
In 2007, the Green Wave set school records in kills, assists, hitting percentage, kills per game and assists per game, as the Tulane offense rolled through its schedule. After receiving three AVCA All-America Awards in the previous 32 seasons of volleyball (two in the previous two seasons by Sara Radosevic), the Tulane program had three players named AVCA All-America Honorable Mention by the AVCA (Radosevic, Bridget Wells and Jenn Miller). Six members of team earned spots on the C-USA All-Conference teams: Radosevic, Wells and Ksenija Vlaskovic on the First Team, Miller and Jen Linder on the Second Team, and Ashley Bernards on the All-Academic Team.
The transition from "survival" following Katrina to "success" on the volleyball court was never more evident that the program's national coming out party on September 24, 2006 as the program made its first-ever national television appearance. The Green Wave knocked off defending Conference USA champion Marshall on its home floor in a match broadcast nationally on CSTV, as Tulane snapped the 14-match Conference USA win streak of the defending league champions, handing Marshall its only home loss of 2006 and first in 17 matches.
At season's end, Radosevic was named an AVCA All-Region and All-American for the second straight season, while picking up First Team All-Conference USA honors. Vlaskovic was named C-USA's and AVCA Midwest Region Freshman of the Year, and earned a spot on the All-Conferece USA Second and All-Rookie Teams. Linder earned Second-Team All C-USA hoors, and Miller was named Second Team All-Conference USA and to the C-USA All-Rookie Team. Off the court, Bernards was named Tulane Athletics Scholar-Athlete of the Year with Conference USA Commissioner's honor roll honors and a C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal Award. The 2006-07 volleyball team was named the Tulane Student-Athlete Advisory Council's Team of the Year, in recognition of the team's success on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
The 2005 season was a daunting task, as the first-year head coach entered the season with a young roster with seven freshman and made it through one match before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
It was then that Tulane realized what kind of leader it had in then first-year head coach Liz Kritza. As University President Scott Cowen charged the Green Wave Athletic Department be "carry the torch, be the face and represent the name" of Tulane University, Kritza held her players to a high standard and helped lead the club through a very traumatic time.
Not only did the team have to relocate, but also wound up losing nearly three weeks of training and competition, including having to cancel 10 pre-conference play dates due to Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which was forecast to hit the College Station area in late September.
Unfazed, Kritza guided her team to a steady improvement throughout the year, and despite finishing with a 3-15 regular-season record, Kritza's club put it all together in the Conference USA Tournament where they Green Wave advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1997.
Along the way, Radosevic was named honorable-mention All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, becoming just the second player in Tulane history to earn the honor and the first rookie to do so. In addition, Radosevic was named to the AVCA All-Midwest Region squad and claimed Freshman of the Year honors from the AVCA Midwest Region, Conference USA and LSWA. Radosevic was one of three student-athletes who claimed C-USA individual honors, claiming second-team recognition while senior libero Kelli Dickson was named to the third-team. Radosevic and fellow rookie Luna Rebrovic claimed C-USA All-Freshman Team honors.
While her team earned honors for its work on the court, its work in the classroom did not go unrecognized as Dickson claimed ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI honors.
A 2000 graduate of Tulane University, Kritza became the seventh head coach in program history on Jan. 17, 2005.
While the 2005 season was Kritza's first at the helm of the volleyball program, it was hardly her first with the Green Wave as she was a dominant front-line player for the Green Wave as a student-athlete from 1995-98, served as a student assistant and volunteer assistant in 1999 and 2000, respectively, and worked as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator from 2001-04.
As an assistant, Kritza was instrumental in helping the Green Wave post winning seasons from 2001-04, including 20-wins seasons in 2002 and 2003.
And while Kritza has been instrumental in helping her student-athletes keep a stronghold on both their athletic and academic growth, it is nothing she has not done herself.
As a player, Kritza was a dominant front-row defender and led C-USA as a junior with 1.41 blocks per game. She set a Tulane single-season block assist record with 154 that year, and paced the team in blocks as a senior with 121. Voted team captain as a senior, she completed her collegiate career fifth in the Tulane record book with 319 total blocks and ranked eighth in attack percentage with a .222 mark on the strength of 496 kills and 209 errors on 1,308 swings.
As a junior in 1997, Kritza helped lead the Green Wave to its first C-USA Tournament semifinal appearance - an accomplishment only matched by the team she coached last season.
Kritza also helped the 1996 Tulane women's track and field team win the C-USA championship, throwing the javelin and shot put. She was also active outside athletics where she was a member of the Tulane Student Athlete Advisory Board from 1996-2000, including serving as vice president in 1998, and was a member of Tulane's prestigious 3.0 Club and the Dean's List.
Kritza came to Tulane after a tremendous prep career at St. Mary's High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she twice led the team to the state championship as her team went a combined 90-8 with four postseason appearances. She earned all-state, all-conference and all-area honors her final three prep seasons, and as a senior, was named Colorado 3A/4A Player of the Year, claimed a spot on the All-Colorado Team and was selected to play in the state's All-Star Game.
At the club level, Kritza played for Boulder Volleyball Club from 1994-95 and helped the squad claim a regional and national ranking. She received her first head coaching job at the club level at the age of 17 when she coached the USVBA/Colorado Elite 12-and-under Junior Olympic team for the 1995 season. Her first coaching position came as an assistant at Divine Redeemer Middle School in her hometown where she served from 1993-95.
An active member of the New Orleans and Tulane communities, Kritza is a board member for Girls First, a non-profit organization for underserved girls in the Metro New Orleans area, as well as the T-Club and Tulane University's Letterwinner's Association. With Girls First, she serves as camp director and has helped the organization grow from 35 girls to over 150. In addition, Kritza has participated in the NO AIDS task force and Habitat For Humanity. She started VolleyDays, a program of clinics promoting volleyball and good health choices for New Orleans Public Schools, is active with the National Girls & Women in Sports Day and also serves as a motivational speaker.
Kritza, whose brother Ted played basketball for the Green Wave, completed her bachelor's degree in finance and cell biology from Tulane in 2000, and is currently pursuing her master's in business administration. She is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and United States Volleyball Coaches Association, and completed the USA Volleyball Coaches Accreditation Program.