Sept. 7, 2002
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Junior opposite hitter Nitia Small had 11 kills and a .346 attack percentage, but it was not enough as the Tulane volleyball team dropped a hard-fought, three-game match to in-state rival LSU in the finale of the 2002 NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic Saturday evening at Fogelman Arena.
Tournament MVP Jennifer Hampton of LSU tallied a match-best 13 kills and teammate Regan Hood was close behind with 12 as the Tigers down the Green Wave 30-24, 30-21, 30-23. With a 1-2 tournament record, Tulane falls to 4-4 on the year while LSU improves to 5-1.
"I felt that we were much improved from the Louisiana Tech match earlier today," head coach Betsy Becker said. "A positive that came out of today's match was Nitia Small who put a good game together. We'll need her down the stretch so that's the silver lining. I thought we were competitive, but we never really got into a rhythm to sustain any sort of momentum.
"You've got to give credit to LSU. They had a lot of power and they were firing from all angles of the court. We just have to bounce back and get ready to play Tuesday vs. South Alabama."
Playing for the second day without starting setter Katie Case, who injured her knee in Friday night's win vs. UNO, freshman Kelli Dickson had another solid outing with 29 assists, a team-high eight digs and three block assists. The injury bug bit the Green Wave again, however, as senior outside hitter Britney Hurst missed the final game of the match with a knee injury.
"We missed Britney in the third game. Knee injuries seem to be our nemesis, but we'll come back and make it a positive. Norman played in her place and did a nice job which proves that we have good depth on our team. We had some missing pieces in our puzzle tonight, but we're going to work to get those filled and get better as a team."
The momentum of the LSU game-one win carried over into the second stanza and the Tigers roared out to a 12-6 lead. Despite a solid effort, the Green Wave could never get the lead below five the rest of the way as LSU eventually pulled away in a 30-21 win.
With Hurst out of the rotation in game three, the Green Wave hung tough with the Tigers. But with the score knotted at 17-all, LSU went on a 13-6 run to end the match and take game three 30-23.
Hampton led the LSU defense with 12 kills while Rachel Pittman posted nine and Katie Kubena had seven to go with a match-best 35 assists.
The Green Wave returns to action on Tuesday, Sept. 10 when they travel to Mobile, Ala., to take on the Jaguars of South Alabama at 7 p.m.
2002 NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic All-Tournament Team
Jennifer Cruz UNO Lauren Culyer LSU Britney Hurst Tulane Katie Kubena LSU Lia Mora Louisiana Tech Christine Sant'Anna Louisiana Tech
Tournament MVP - Jennifer Hampton, LSU