Sept. 6, 2008
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells posted 12 kills while senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic tallied eight kills and 10 digs, but it was not enough as the Tulane University volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision to No. 2 Nebraska in the finale of the Paso Robles Marriott Invitational at Mott Gym on the campus of Cal Poly.
The Green Wave (2-4) battled hard throughout the contest, but the Huskers (6-0) proved to be too much in the end. Nebraska won the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-15, but Tulane refused to go away quietly and gave the nation's second-ranked team a run for their money. Tulane trailed just 21-20 late in the third set before Nebraska used a 4-0 rally to put the Green Wave away.
"Coming into the season, we thought that we could play point-for-point with almost any team in the country and that is what this team needed to prove to itself tonight," Tulane head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "Nebraska undoubtedly will challenge for the national championship and that is exactly why we came out here. This will only make us better.
"Obviously, we knew what we were getting into when we came out here. What I wanted to see from this team was how it would respond to certain situations and if it could keep its composure when playing tough competition. Our performance tonight is going to make the difference for us at the end of the season come late November."
Wells, who averaged 3.80 kills per set - including a career-best 22 kills in last night's 3-0 win over Northeastern - and 0.50 blocks per set, was named to the all-tournament team. She had five kills in the first set, four in the second and three in the third.
"Bridget has now proven that she can play at a consistently high level," Kritza said. "The last two matches she had here, she was able to be our offensive strength and we will look for her to continue to elevate her play throughout the season."
Nebraska scored the first three points of the match, but Tulane came back to make it a one-point game at 5-4. The Huskers used an 8-1 rally to take a 13-5 lead, but the Wave once again battled back to cut the lead to four at 18-14. From there, however, Nebraska outscored Tulane 7-3 to take a 1-0 advantage in the match.
The Green Wave jumped out to an early lead in the second set and led by as many as three at 9-6. Nebraska came back to tie the score at 10-all, and two points later, used an 8-2 rally to take control of the stanza and cruise to a 10-point victory.
Down 2-0, Tulane refused to give in and hung point-for-point with Nebraska throughout the third set. The stanza featured six ties and the Green Wave actually held a three-point lead at 17-14. The Huskers, however, used a 5-0 run to claim a two-point lead and never trailed the rest of the way.
Senior setter Luna Rebrovic had a team-best 13 of the Wave's 31 assists on the day, while junior libero Jenn Miller chipped in with eight digs. Senior middle blocker Jen Linder paced the Tulane front-line defense with a pair of block assists.
Nebraska's Tara Mueller led all players with 15 kills while Jordan Larson and Kayla Banwarth headlined the Husker defense with 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Amanda Gates paced four block assists for Nebraska while Sydney Anderson, Lindsey Licht, Kori Cooper and Larson had two block assists each.
Saturday's 3-0 loss to Nebraska wrapped up a 10-day road swing for the Green Wave team, which did not make its scheduled trip back to New Orleans following last weekend's BYU Molten Classic in Provo, Utah, due to the threat of Hurricane Gustav to the Gulf Coast region. Kritza, however, said that the team's stint on the road will prove to be a strength for the team as the program strives to make its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008.
"In order for us to get where we want to be, we are going to have to win a conference tournament title on the road," Kritza said. "We now know what it is like to be on the road for an extended period of time. This has been a grueling trip for us and being on the road is never easy. Now that the competition is over for the week, we look forward to getting home, returning to some sense of normalcy, and preparing for another challenging weekend ahead."
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, Sept. 12, when they open the home portion of their schedule against Jacksonville State in day one of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic in Fogelman Arena. Tulane will also play host to North Dakota State on Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. before closing out the tournament against Maryland later in the day at 8 p.m. For season tickets information or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.