Aug. 30, 2008
PROVO, Utah - In the first two contests of the 2008 BYU Molten Classic, the Green Wave were out-blocked by a combined margin of 35.5-9.0. Senior middle blocker Jen Linder made sure that didn't happen for a third consecutive match.
In its final game of the tournament, the Tulane University volleyball team posted eight team blocks to Utah State's four and a half as the Wave defeated the Aggies, 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-19), Saturday evening at Smith Fieldhouse. Linder had one solo block and five block assists while adding six kills on nine swings for a .667 attack percentage to go along with three digs and an assist.
"I think we just got tired of looking at our stats and seeing the other team had 20 blocks and we had five," Linder said. "We just really worked on closing out the blocks, getting our feet there and getting back to the basics. We just said, `We know how to block, now let's just go out there and do it.'"
As a team, the Green Wave connected at a .344 clip with 43 kills and just 11 errors in 93 swings, including 11 kills by senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells and 10 kills by senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic. Radosevic hit .318 with just three miscues in 22 attempts while sophomore middle blocker Stephanie Stromach - who made her first career start Saturday against the Aggies - was a perfect 5-for-5 and added a pair of block assists.
Defensively, Tulane's blocking held Utah State to a .071 attack percentage (28 kills, 22 errors, 85 attempts). The Aggies out-dug the Green Wave, 34-31, but Tulane's dig total accounted for nearly 40 percent of Utah State's attacks. Radosevic and freshman Visnja Djurdjevic tied for team-high dig honors with seven each, while junior libero Jenn Miller was next with six.
Tulane scored the first three points of the match, but Utah State rallied back to tie the score with three straight points of its own. With the score knotted at 5-all, the Green Wave used a 7-3 rally to take a 12-8 advantage they would not relinquish. The lead swelled to seven at 20-13 and the Wave out-scored the Aggies, 5-2, the rest of the way to claim a 1-0 advantage.
The Wave opened set two with another 3-0 rally and used that to take an early 8-1 advantage. Utah State used rallies of 8-3 and 6-3 to make it a two-point affair, but with Tulane leading 17-15, the Green Wave went on an 8-2 run to make it a 2-0 contest.
Utah State scored the first point of set three, but the rest of the stanza was more of the same as the Green Wave jump out to an early 8-3 advantage and never looked back. The lead swelled to as many as eight at 18-10 and the Aggies could only whittle the lead down to as many as five. Vlaskovic clinched the victory with a kill down the line to spark the Tulane celebration.
"We learn from our losses," Linder said. "It's like Coach (Kritza) says, if we didn't execute on things against Missouri, we worked on that for BYU. Then, whatever we did wrong against them, we worked on for tonight. We were building up for this great win, which was sort of a blowout and a lot of fun to play in."
Melissa Osterloh led Utah State with nine kills and 10 digs. Chelsea Fowls led all players with 23of the Aggies' 24 assits, while Rebecca Anderson posted three block assists.
Senior setter Luna Rebrovic led Tulane with 21 assists while junior Rachel Lindelow added 17. Wells followed Linder in blocks with four assists, while Radosevic, Djurdjevic and junior Ksenija Vlaskovic had one assist each. All six of the Wave's front-line players posted at least four kills as Vlaskovic had seven and Djurdjevic added four.
While Tulane concludes the BYU Molten Classic with a 1-2 record, Kritza was quick to point out the strides her team made throughout the weekend.
"By no means has this tournament been easy for us at all," she said. "We are on the road, there is a lot of uncertainty going on with our school and our home town, and there is no getting around the fact that our thoughts and hearts are with everyone in the gulf region right now. I told our girls that this tournament will be an important one for us because of the teams that we are playing, but also for facing adversity.
"I'm very proud of this team. They made adjustments, they made the changes that we talked about and they did not lose their heads when they lost those matches. They came back and put forth a pretty good showing against a good Utah State team."
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, Sept. 5, when they take on host Cal Poly in day one of the Paso Robles Marriott Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif. First serve of that match is slated for noon (CDT). For season tickets information or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.