Sep 7, 2013
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Tulane's volleyball team extended their season-opening winning streak to seven matches by getting past Saint Francis (Pa.) in three sets Saturday morning at the YSU Invitational in Youngstown, Ohio.
The Green Wave won 25-15, 25-22 and 25-13 during the match that lasted only one hour and 17 minutes. With the victory, Tulane claimed the championship of the tournament after going 3-0 on the weekend.
Tulane last opened a season 7-0 in 2007, and haven't had a winning streak this long since they rattled off 17 victories in a row towards the end of their 2008 Conference USA Championship season.
"We had to prepare ourselves for this last match," said Tulane director of volleyball Sinisa Momic. "It was the third match of the tournament for us, so we were a little bit tired. I thought we had the right mentality, though. We just controlled most of the match. Overall, it was a good tournament, and we got better as we went along."
Freshman Tea Juric led the team with 16 kills while fellow freshman Annie Shurtz was second on the squad with 10. Juric also paced the team with two service aces. Senior Mel Mandelbaum notched 33 assists for the team-lead, while senior Cori Martone led the way with 15 digs. Mandelbaum, Juric, freshman Sarah Strasner and junior Olivia Utt tied for the lead with two block assists each.
Tulane had no trouble putting Saint Francis (Pa.) away during the first set of the day, as the Green Wave led throughout the entire game. It marked the first match Tulane got a win against Rider during the second match of the season on Sept. 31. The end result of 25-15 was the largest lead of the game for the Green Wave. Juric and Martone tied for the lead in kills during the set with five a piece. As a team, Tulane hit .361 during the set, and recorded 21 digs, led by Mandelbaum's six.
Saint Francis (Pa.) - who dropped to 0-7 with the loss - did play strong during the second game, but Tulane was still able to sneak past them. The Green Wave took an early lead before the Red Flash tied things at 15 on a service ace. Tulane took a timeout, but the Red Flash still managed two more points before an error allowed Tulane to serve. Two kills by Juric sandwiched a service ace by Martone, leading to a timeout by Saint Francis (Pa.). Juric notched another kill, but the Red Flash stormed back on two kills and two service aces to take a 21-20 lead. An error on Saint Francis (Pa.) tied things up before Shurtz and Mandelbaum recorded kills to take the lead once and for all. Shurtz and Juric wrapped up the game with kills. As a team, the Green Wave bettered themselves by hitting .389 during the game.
The Green Wave once again controlled the pace during the third game, as they led throughout the set. Freshman Sarah Strasner paced the team with four kills, while adding a block assist. Shurtz posted the lone solo block on the day for Tulane, while Mandelbaum, Martone and junior Anna Wruck also played big at the net with block assists.
For her efforts during the tournament, Mandelbaum was named the MVP by the coaches. The Clovis, Calif., native recorded 139 of the team's 158 total assists while adding eight kills, two service aces, 21 digs and five blocks (one solo).
"I think Mel was just playing exceptionally well," added Momic. "She made good decisions while running our offense. She is one of our top diggers at all times. She is not making many mistakes, and she makes everyone around her better."
Martone and Juric were named to the All-Tournament team, as well. Juric led the team with 45 kills despite only playing in 10 of the 11 sets on the weekend. She averaged 4.50 kills per set while adding three service aces and 36 digs. She also posted four block assists. Martone notched 32 kills during the three matches, and also played outstanding defense. She recorded nine block assists and 44 digs, both second on the team during the tournament.
"Overall, Cori played great in different skills," mentioned Momic. "I thought her serving was great, she played good defense on the back row and she contributed offensively. She had three good matches. We got to see Tea's talent during the Toledo match where she took over. She played good defense throughout the tournament. Overall, both girls had a really good tournament."
Tulane will return to Louisiana to square off against cross-town rival New Orleans for a 7pm CT tilt on Tuesday.
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