Aug. 29, 2008
PROVO, Utah - Senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic had a match-high 16 kills and junior libero Jenn Miller led all players with 20 digs, but it was not enough as the Tulane University volleyball team dropped its season-opener to Missouri, 3-1, Friday afternoon in day one of the BYU Molten Classic at Smith Fieldhouse.
Tulane took the first set, 25-23, before falling in set two, 25-20. Things looked good for the Green Wave in the third set as Tulane held set-point at 24-22. Missouri, however, stormed back with four consecutive points to take the stanza and cruised to a match-deciding 25-14 victory in set four.
"Obviously, this was not the start we were looking for," Tulane head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "Simply put, a few players who are crucial to our system were not ready to perform at their normal level today. The idea was to come out and take the first game - which we did but we even had a slow start then. We allowed Missouri to think that they could beat us, and that is exactly what happened.
"If we had run our system properly and executed the way we have been the last couple of weeks (in practice), I think it would have been a much different turnout or at least a much more competitive last game. We had our opportunities to win this and we didn't take them."
Tulane posted 53 kills to Missouri's 45 and had three more assists than the Tigers. The difference in the game came at the net where Missouri out-blocked the Wave, 20-5. Weiwen Wang had two solo blocks and seven block assists to lead the Tigers, while Brittney Brimmage chipped in with seven block assists.
The block differential allowed Missouri to hold Tulane to a .101 attack percentage for the match (53 kills, 37 errors, 158 attempts). The Tigers, meanwhile, connected at a .248 clip with 45 kills and just 13 errors in 129 swings.
"That was a big difference," Kritza said. "It was a four-to-one difference just in blocks. When you are playing teams that block that well against us, it is our system of having more hitters and spreading it out that lets us combat that. When we are not executing our system against a block like that, we are relying on the strengths of the individual players and that is what got us into trouble today. We had way too many balls that our hitters were not prepared to swing on. They were not ready to swing so they were taking their most natural swing, which is hitting it right into the block.
"Some of that was setters' decisions. Our passing overall was better (than the numbers show) and our setters should have run the offense a little more balanced. In essence to them, the hitters did not do their job today. We got out-hit by a team that we should be hitting much better against."
Tulane fell behind 6-1 early in set one, but battled back to tie things up at 11-all. The Wave built the lead to as many as nine at 21-14 thanks in large part to a 20-9 run, but Missouri refused to go away. Tulane held set point at 24-17, before the Tigers went on a 6-0 rally to make it a one-point affair. Radosevic wrapped up the set with a cross-court kill, however, to give the Wave a 1-0 advantage.
The second set was a back and forth battle but Missouri used a 4-0 rally to take a 15-12 lead and force Tulane to call a timeout. The break in the action did little to thwart the Tiger rally, however, as Missouri outscored 10-8 the rest of the way to even the match at one game apiece.
Set three started in a similar fashion as the previous contest as the teams battled to a 5-5 tie early on, but the Wave used a 9-4 rally to claim a 14-9 lead. Missouri whittled the Tulane advantage down to three at 18-15, and eventually tied the game at 22-all. Following a timeout, Tulane scored two straight points to hold set-point at 24-22, but Missouri stormed back with four consecutive points to take a two-games-to-one lead.
"Volleyball is all about momentum, and if you get stuck in one rotation, that could be it," Kritza said. "You can get down and you don't have time to come back, especially in this shorter game. We learned a very tough lesson today."
Game four, meanwhile, was all Missouri. After trading the first 20 points of the set, Missouri used a 4-0 run to claim a 14-10 lead and never looked back. Tulane cut the deficit to 14-12, but the Tigers outscored the Green Wave 11-2 the rest of the way to earn the victory.
Freshman outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic had a solid debut, posting seven kills and nine digs while posting one service ace, and senior middle blocker Jen Linder tallied 10 kills and a pair of block assists in the loss. Senior setter Luna Rebrovic had 25 of the Wave's 46 assists while junior Rachel Lindelow posted 17.
Wang was the only member of the Missouri team to post double-digit kill totals with 15 and chipped in with a pair of service aces. Lei Wang led all players with 39 assists while Caitly Vann paced the Tigers with 17 digs.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Aug. 30, when they continue play in the BYU Molten Invitational when they take on No. 20 BYU at 1 p.m. before closing out tourney play against Utah State at 6:30 p.m. From there, the Tulane team will hit the road once again to participate in the Paso Robles Marriott Invitational on Sept. 5-6 in San Luis Obispo, Calif. For season tickets information or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.