Sept. 13, 2012
(4-6, 0-1 C-USA)
(2-8, 1-0 C-USA)
|M. Mandelbaum||7||50 *||1|
PLAYER OF THE GAME
NUMBERS OF NOTE
11 Their victory over UTEP was the 11th such outcome versus the Miners in program history. Tulane is now 11-3 versus UTEP since their first meeting in 2005.
806 With her 16th kill on Thursday night, Cori Martone became the 15th player in school history to top the 800-kill mark. She is not 173 kills away from Erin Fogarty in 14th on the career kills charts.
NEW ORLEANS - Junior right-side hitter Cori Martone and sophomore outside hitter Grace Weaver both posted double-doubles, and junior setter Mel Mandelbaum tallied a match-high 50 assists, as the Tulane University opened the Conference USA portion of its schedule with a 3-1 victory over UTEP in the opening match of the Kathy Trosclair Memorial on Thursday evening at The Hertz Center.
The two teams split the initial sets with the Green Wave claiming the opener, 25-20, and the Miners emerging victorious in the second, 25-22. From there, however, Tulane trailed just five times the rest of the way and never by more than two points to claim the final two frames, 25-23 and 25-19, respectively. In victory, the Green Wave snapped a five-match skid to improve to 2-8 on the year and 1-0 in C-USA play. UTEP, meanwhile, dropped its second-straight contest to fall to 4-6 overall and 0-1 in league action.
"We focused on just doing our best no matter what the score was - being brave and going after it," Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic said. "If you do that, things will start happening in your favor. In the past, we were timid and making errors. We made some errors again, but we didn't quit. That resulted in us coming up with big points when we needed them and forcing UTEP into making unforced errors. That was the big difference tonight. We never stopped."
Martone and Weaver were two of three Green Wave student-athletes to post double-digit kill totals and two of three to also tally at least 10 digs. Martone paced the squad with 22 kills on 39 swings to finish with a .436 attack percentage while Weaver had 15 kills and senior right-side hitter Milica Jovic added 10. Junior libero Azarri Badawi led the Tulane defense with a match-best 17 digs, followed on the team by Martone with 15 and Weaver with 10.
As a team, the Green Wave hit .232 with 57 kills and 25 errors in 138 attempts while allowing UTEP to connect at a .236 clip (46-17-123). Tulane out-dug the Miners, 55-44 and added nine service aces to UTEP's two. Martone led the home team from the stripe with four aces and Weaver added a pair. Sophomore middle Olivia Utt had five block assists to spearhead the Green Wave's 7.0-block effort.
"We went to a 5-1 system and let Mel run the offense," Momic said. "One of the goals was to get everyone involved. She executed most of her sets very well. Cori played much better and hit better than .400. Overall, Cori, Azarri and Grace did a good job in serve-receive and that put us in position to run our offense more efficiently. We could get some more points from our middles. We're still waiting for that but that will come as we continue to get better."
UTEP scored two of the first three points in the opening set, but a Jovic kill sparked a 5-0 Green Wave run to give Tulane a 6-2 lead it would not relinquish. The advantage swelled to as many as nine at 20-11 and the Miners cut the deficit to four three times down the stretch. A service error by UTEP's Rachel Scott thwarted the rally for the final point of the frame, and the Miners were able to take the momentum of the come-back effort into the second set.
The two teams traded the first 10 points of set No. 2 before UTEP broke a 5-5 deadlock with a Neane Horton kill and never trailed again. The Miners lead never got higher than four and the Green Wave rallied to tie things up at 21- and 22-all. A Tulane attack error gave UTEP a 23-22 lead, and Horton put it away with back-to-back kills to knot the match at one set each.
Neither team could pull away from the other early in the third as the Green Wave and Miners sat tied at 7-7 after 14 serves. Back-to-back UTEP errors allowed Tulane to take a two-point lead and that was all the home team needed en route to the two-point win.
The Miners took an early 6-4 edge in what proved to be the final set, but Tulane answered with four straight points - including a pair of aces by Weaver - and never looked back. UTEP hung tough for a while, tailing by just a pair at 15-13 midway through the frame, but Tulane outscored the Miners 10-6 the rest of the way to send the home crowd to the exits smiling.
"We've been waiting for sort of a break-through and just to be able to go all out," Martone said. "We were able to do that today and it was very exciting to see.
"(Closing out matches is) one of the things we've struggled with actually, but we did an awesome job of picking each other up when we were in our low spots. We weren't on as much of a roller coaster as normally are and I think that is what helped give us the win."
Horton paced the Miners with 16 kills while Taylor Nix joined her in double figures with 10. Malia Patterson posted UTEP's lone double-double with 36 assists and a team-best 12 digs. Xitlali Herrera and Victoria Valencia both posted 10 digs to aid the Miners' defensive effort while Hererra led an 11.0-block effort with one solo stuff and five assists.
The Kathy Trosclair Memorial continues on Friday with Baylor taking on Binghampton at 4:30 p.m. The third-and-final day of the tournament is slated for Saturday with UTEP facing Baylor at 10 a.m., Tulane squaring off against Binghamton at 1 p.m., Binghampton lining up against UTEP at 4 p.m. and Tulane closing things out vs. Baylor at 7 p.m.
Single-game and season-ticket sales for the 2012 volleyball season remain for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.