Junior outside/right-side hitter Sara Thorson posted a career-best 13 kills vs. No. 8 Notre Dame Friday in the opening round of the NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic.
Sept. 16, 2005
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Tulane University volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision to No. 8 Notre Dame in day one of the NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic Friday afternoon at the C. Rollie White Coliseum, but the scoreboard did not tell the whole story.
Playing for the first time since a season-opening 3-0 win over Nicholls State back on Aug. 26 in Fogelman Arena, the Green Wave did more than hold their own against the nationally ranked Fighting Irish. Despite working on just three days of practice since the win over the Lady Colonels in New Orleans, Tulane gave Notre Dame all it could handle in a 30-23, 30-26, 30-26 decision.
"Today was about so much more than a simple volleyball game," Tulane head coach Liz Kritza said. "This match was all about emotion, dedication and a desire to represent the Tulane University at the highest level. We are a young team and we have only practiced a few days here in College Station, but you would never know it by what we the team played today.
"Notre Dame is an extremely talented team - one that I think can make a serious run in the postseason - and today, we hung with them. There were several bright spots, and obviously there were some things we need to work on. This shows what type of team we have, and I am very proud of their performance today."
Junior outside/right-side hitter Sarah Thorson led the team with a career-high 13 kills, and senior libero Kelli Dickson led all players with 23 digs. Other notables for the Green Wave on the day were freshman outside hitter Sara Radosevic, who fell just short of her first career double-double with 11 kills and nine digs, rookie middle blocker Bridget Wells, who posted seven kills and four blocks, and freshman setter Luna Rebrovic, who had 33 assists, nine digs and a pair of stuffs.
But the game was much more than just scores and stats. It was about a team playing in a strange arena, in front a large group of rowdy fans - mostly Texas A&M students who had never seen the Green Wave play prior to Friday's contest - as well as a large contingent of Tulane's men's basketball, swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, and women's soccer teams in College Station who came out to support their fellow student-athletes.
At the beginning of the match, it was obvious where the Tulane student-athletes were and where the Texas A&M student body was sitting. But as the A&M regulars began doing makeshift Tulane yells, the Green Wave and Aggie fans began to intertwine into one large and loud unit.
"I can't say enough about the support we have received since we arrived in College Station, but today brought it to a whole new level," Kritza said. "We came out of the locker room for pregame warm-ups and (TexasA&M's) students began cheering and doing their yells. It made us feel that much more welcome, which based on the reception we have received so far, is no small accomplishment."
Tulane stormed out of the gate in game one, rolling to a 12-4 lead, but the Irish would bounce back to tie the game at 20-all before outscoring the Green Wave 10-3 the rest of the way to take the opening stanza.
Notre Dame got off to the hot start in game two and jumped out to a 7-4 advantage, but Tulane answered with a 6-3 rally to take a 10-7 lead. Momentum shifted back and forth throughout the contest, and the Green Wave eventually cut a late Irish lead to two at two at 28-26 before seeing the No. 8 team push for the final two points to take a 2-0 advantage going into the break.
The momentum of the late stand carried over into game three as Notre Dame roared out to a 15-8 lead and never looked back. Tulane refused to go away and fought hard the rest of the way, but the early advantage was too much to overcome as Notre Dame held on to take the match in straight games.
Lauren Kelbley led Notre Dame with a match-high 15 kills and Lauren Brewster was next for the Irish with nine kills of her own. Defensively, Adrianna Stasiuk posted 19 digs and Meg Henican had 12, and the Irish had 11 team blocks, including three solo and three assists by Helbley.
The NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic comes to a close on Sunday, Sept. 18 when Notre Dame and LSU square off at 11 a.m. before Tulane and Arizona State conclude tournament play at 1 p.m. For ticket information, contact the Texas A&M Ticket Office at 888-99-AGGIE or 979-845-2311. For fans who can not make the game in person, live stats are available on-line at the official site of Tulane Athletics, www.tulanegreenwave.com.