Sept. 11, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After winning only one set in their first six matches, the Tulane volleyball team has rattled off six straight set victories and claimed another 3-0 win, this time over Penn, to open the second day of play at the Spring Hill Suites at Arundel Mills Terrapin Invitational.
"We played well again today," said Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic. "We came into (the match) pretty focused and we were ready to play from the start, which I think caught (Penn) by surprise. Overall, we are playing better. Mel (Mandelbaum) did a good job running our offense and Izabela had a good match for us today. We have kind of found a groove now and are looking more comfortable as a team after a few wins."
In the opening set, the Green Wave carried over their record setting pace from Friday evening, boasting a .522 hitting percentage with 12 kills and zero errors. The first set was tied at 6-6 before the Olive and Blue reeled off six straight points - including two blocks and a kill from Izabela Grot - and grabbed control of the opener. Grot and Lindsey Shepard each tallied four kills, while Mel Mandelbaum handed out 12 assists in the 25-13 victory.
A tightly contests second set gave the Green Wave a 2-0 lead, but TU had to rally from a three point deficit late in the match to claim the 26-24 win. No team held more than a three point lead at any time in the second frame, with Tulane leading 15-12 at the midway point and Penn holding a 22-19 edge late. A kill from Azarri Badawi and a pair of attacking errors from the Quakers knotted things up at 22 apiece. The set was tied for the 19th time at 24-24, when Cori Martone gave Tulane the lead with a kill and another attacking error from Penn ended the second frame.
"Now that we have steady passing, our hitters are connecting with Mel a lot better," Momic said. "(Mel) is able to connect with our middles, which is hard for a young setter sometimes. Lindsey did a good job at the net today, getting some big blocks when we needed them, and she was really hitting the ball well this morning. Izabela had another good day for us with nine kills and no errors and has really been a solid contributor for us so far."
Shepard led all players with ten kills and zero attacking errors, giving her 20 kills and no errors thus far at the Terrapin Invitational, to go along with five blocks. Mandelbaum paced all players with 34 assists and 14 digs for her second double-double of the weekend and Grot chipped in nine kills on 20 attacks with zero errors. As a team, the Green Wave set a season-high with eight blocks and their .288 attacking percentage was the second highest total of the season.
Tulane (2-6) will close out their stay at the Spring Hill Suites at Arundel Mills Terrapin Invitational with a 6:00 match tonight (Sept. 11) versus host Maryland.