Aug. 27, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - Day two at the Tiger Invitational ended much the same way as the first day for the Tulane volleyball team. The Green Wave opened the day by dropping a three-setter to host Missouri (19-25, 21-25, 14-25), but followed that with a straight set win over Binghamton (25-19, 25-23, 25-17) to end their opening weekend with a 2-2 record.
"(Our players) showed that they have grown since last season," said Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic. "We are a lot tougher as a team this year, but we just need to be more consistent to beat the really good teams. It is good to play tough matches against good teams early in the year because we need that experience. We need to be match tested. It was nice to see us win two matches in straight sets and it gives us a good idea of where we are at as a team and what we still need to work on."
In their opening match of the day, Tulane faced off with host Missouri and dropped a three set decision. The first set featured two early ties before the Tigers grabbed the momentum with four straight points, eventually pushing their lead to five points at 13-8. The Green Wave scratched back into the set starting with a bad set from Missouri and two kills from Grace Weaver were followed by a kill from Azarri Badawi to cut the advantage to 13-12. Missouri would score six of the next seven points and Tulane could not recover, losing the opening set 25-19.
Neither team built a lead of bigger than five points in a second set that featured six ties and three lead changes. Tulane saw a 4-2 lead turn into a 6-4 deficit in the early goings and Missouri eventually built their lead to 13-8 midway through the set. The Olive and Blue would retake the lead with a 9-3 run that featured a service ace from Lilly Wolfe and a kill and block from Milica Jovic. The two teams would not be separated by more than one point until the Tigers broke a 20-20 tie and went on to score the four of the final five points for a 25-21 victory.
"We were close, but you can't make mistakes against a team like Missouri," said Momic. "They were more physical and they really don't have any weaknesses as a team. They closed out the games on us and that is what good teams do. We stuck with them until late in each set, but their physicality, coupled with our mistakes, allowed them to pull away late in each set."
Nikki Osuna led all players with 11 digs, while Badawi led the Green Wave with seven kills. Izabela Grot added six kills and Anna Wruck had four kills for TU. A trio of Missouri attackers posted double-digit kill matches, led by 11 apiece from Lisa Henning and Emily Wilson and ten kills from Brittney Brimmage. Mel Mandelbaum handed out 11 assists for Tulane and Lilly Wolfe dished out 13 in the loss.
"We passed a lot better (against Binghamton) and stayed in or system," said Momic. "We were much more organized and really ran did a nice job of running our offense through our middle (hitters). Cori was back in this match, which helped a lot, and Anna had a strong match from the middle position, as well. We really did a good job of closing out the match and being more physical at the end of each set."
Like they did on day one, the Green Wave rebounded with a better second match to close out their stay in Columbia, Mo. Tulane took a straight-set victory from Binghamton to finish their opening weekend with a 2-2 record. In the finale, the Olive and Blue grabbed a 25-19 decision in the opening set behind a perfect attack from Anna Wruck, who had four kills on four attacks, to begin the match versus the Bearcats. Tulane never trailed in the opening frame and built an eight point lead at 15-7, with help from three service aces from Mandelbaum. From that point on, the Green Wave led by no less than four points and kills from Milica Jovic and Izabela Grot closed out the set.
Binghamton (0-4) controlled play early on in the second set and led 15-10 after a service ace from Grace Vickers. That lead didn't last long, though, as a Grot kill, two hitting errors from the Bearcats and a pair of kills from Cori Martone knotted the match at 15 apiece. The two teams would trade leads down the stretch, but a block by Grot and Martone and a service error closed out the match and gave Tulane a two set lead with the 25-23 decision.
The Green Wave closed out the match by running away with the third set, to the tune of 25-17, thanks to a balanced attack and some tough serving. Tulane took the early lead at 3-2 and never trailed from that point. Three of their first eight points came on service aces and Martone's third service ace of the set pushed the Olive and Blue out in front by a tally of 19-11. Binghamton cut the lead to five points, 20-15, but Tulane kept their cool and sided out nicely to claim the match victory.
The offense was led by Martone and Wruck, who each posted nine kills to lead all players, and Grot added six kills of her own. Martone also added four service aces and Mandelbaum aced her serve five times on the match to go along with 16 assists. Wruck also had six blocks to lead an eight-block effort for the team. The Green Wave defense limited the Bearcats to a .129 hitting percentage and Chloe Tom posted eight digs in her first career start.
2011 Tiger Invitational All-Tournament Team
Molly Kreklow, Missouri (MVP)
Emily Wilson, Missouri
Brittney Brimmage, Missouri
Brynn Joki, NDSU
Megan Lambertson, NDSU
Anna Wruck, Tulane
Danielle Downs, Idaho State
Kristin Hovie, Binghamton
Tulane will now turn their focus to hosting the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Classic on September 2 and 3 at Fogelman Arena. The tournament starts with a match between William and Mary and Southern Illinois at 5:00 on Friday (Sept. 2), with the Green Wave taking to the court at 7:00 versus San Diego State. Tournament play will resume on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. and four matches will take place through the day.
"We are very excited and privileged to team with the Sugar Bowl to host such a wonderful tournament," said Momic. "We are very grateful to the Sugar Bowls support and efforts to help us put on such a first-class event in New Orleans for most of the last decade and we are hopeful that this relationship can continue to blossom into something special. There is nothing better than to be able to open your home schedule with such a wonderful event and we couldn't do it without them. Tulane and the Sugar Bowl Committee recognize how important our two entities are to this city and this tournament is just another example of our commitment to making New Orleans a truly unique sports town at the college level. "
Season tickets for the 2011 volleyball season are currently available through the Tulane Ticket office and are just $55 for the entire 16-game home schedule. Single game tickets are being sold, as well, and can be purchased by contacting the Tulane Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE or visiting the Tulane Team Shop inside the James Wilson, Jr. Center between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.