Freshman Makenzie Frieden led the team with 18 digs against UNO on Wednesday
Sept. 11, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - It only took six matches for the 2013 Tulane volleyball program to match last year's win total, but with two more wins - including Wednesday night's victory over New Orleans in three sets at the Human Performance Center on the campus of UNO - the squad became the first in the program's 39-year history to start a season 8-0.
The Green Wave defeated the Privateers in three straight sets, 25-19, 25-17 and 25-15 to make history for a program that has had some incredible seasons in the past. Only the 1994 and 2007 teams had ever started a campaign 7-0 before this year's team has taken the early part of their schedule by storm.
"We have had some rough matches that were tight," said Tulane director of volleyball Sinisa Momic. "It's a good record. We've been successful with a team that had never played together before. We've waited for them to gel and improve. But so far, I think we have accomplished what we have set out to do during our preseason matches."
Tulane got a lot of solid production from their freshman class against UNO, as Sarah Strasner paced the squad with 12 kills during the match against UNO, with fellow freshman Tea Juric chipping in ten kills for the only other double-digit figure in the category. Two other freshmen led respective categories, as Makenzie Frieden had her best contest this year by posting a team-high 18 digs and Annie Shurtz led the team with two block assists and two service aces.
Strasner and junior Anna Wruck each had one block assist for Tulane's only other blocks on the evening. Senior Mel Mandelbaum put together another outstanding performance, as she managed 31 assists to lead the Green Wave.
As a team, Tulane hit .311, while Strasner posted a blistering clip of .611, bettered by Mandelbaum's .750 and Wruck's .875.
Tulane came out of the gate strong, scoring the first seven points of the first set. The Privateers cut the lead to just two with the score at 8-6 in favor of Tulane before the Green Wave rattled off five straight points. The Green Wave stayed out in front of UNO during the entire set, thanks in part to four kills by Juric and Strasner, as well as Shurtz's two service aces. After a few errors on Tulane's side of the net, Wruck ended the set with a kill.
The tables turned, albeit briefly, in the second set, as UNO took the lead to start the game. Tulane tied things up at four off a kill by junior Olivia Utt, two kills by Strasner and an attack error by UNO. The two teams went back-and-forth before the Green Wave were able to pull away with the eighth point. Tulane did not relinquish the lead during the remainder of the set, and were led by Strasner's five kills.
UNO led early in the third set, as well, before Tulane ultimately pulled away for the overall victory. Shurtz and Juric tied for the team lead in kills during the set with four each, while Shurtz and Strasner each notched a block assist.
"I think we started off really well, and it gave me a chance to play some different players to see how they would respond in a different gym," added Momic. "We opened up the first game well, and they came back in the second game. It wasn't perfect at all times, but I think we pretty much controlled the game. We tried to set our middles well, and it worked. They both hit great percentages. Olivia and Makenzie split time and they both played well. This was a good experience for everybody. We were able to control the match, which was good, because we will face teams similar to UNO in our conference."
Freshman Ally Frank notched a career-high three assists for the Green Wave during the contest. She did so in front of her twin sister, Brooklyn, who played in one set for the Privateers. The two have made the Big Easy their home, hailing from the town of Saskatoon in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
Fellow freshman Miah Diirell made her collegiate debut during the contest, seeing action towards the end of the first set and receiving a serve. In total, six Tulane freshman saw the floor against UNO.
One player was notably absent for the Green Wave, as senior Cori Martone was held out of the match after sustaining a very minor injury in practice on Monday. Martone will be ready for the upcoming weekend.
Tulane will return to the court on Friday, as they play host to the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Classic, featuring North Dakota, Florida A&M and Texas Southern at Fogelman Arena at Devlin Fieldhouse. Tulane will square off against Texas Southern at 12pm CT on Friday before playing Florida A&M at 7:30pm CT later that night. Florida A&M will face North Dakota at 10am CT on Friday morning, with Texas Southern and North Dakota also playing on Friday at 5:30pm CT.
Saturday's action will see Florida A&M and Texas Southern battle it out at 12pm CT, while Tulane will close the tournament with a match against North Dakota at 3pm CT.
Single game tickets will be available for $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children.
For Friday's matches, fans are encouraged to park in the Rosen Lot before 5pm CT, as the Loyola lot will not be available until then. Fans may park in the Loyola lot for Saturday's matches.
Season tickets for Tulane volleyball are $55 for adults and $35 for youth, ages three to 14. For single-game ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE (9283). Group discounts are available when ten or more tickets are purchased.
The Tulane Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center and is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information, log onto the official website at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
Fans can follow the Green Wave volleyball program on Twitter (GreenWaveVB) or on Facebook at facebook.com/GreenWaveVolleyball.