Sept. 25, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - For the fifth straight season, the Tulane volleyball team opened their Conference USA schedule with a victory, defeating Houston 3-1 at Fogelman Arena on Saturday (Sept. 25) afternoon. The Olive and Blue won by scores of 25-17, 18-25, 31-29 and 25-21 to open the Conference USA slate with a victory.
Tulane was led by a double-double from Milica Jovic and Mel Mandelbaum, while sophomore Izabela Grot chipped in 11 kills. Jovic posted 12 kills and 11 digs, while Mandelbaum dished out 38 assists and added 11 digs to lead the Green Wave to the four-set victory.
"It is always good to start the conference season with a win," said Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic. "We overcame some of our mental obstacles that we saw earlier this year. We overcame some negative plays at the end of the third and fourth games and had some hitters stepping up. We didn't quit today and (Milica) really stepped up and converted some big kills when we needed somebody to score. Houston is a tough team. We just stayed in (each set) and I am glad to see some of our players stepping up when things get tough."
A pair of kills from Cori Martone and a Jovic kill helped the Green Wave open up an early 6-0 lead over the Cougars in the opening set. Tulane never trailed in the first frame and eventually led by 13 points on an Azarri Badawi kill to make it 18-5. Houston closed to within five points, at 22-17, but Tulane scored the final three points to claim the first set. Martone had three kills in the opening set, while four other TU players chipped in two kills in the wire-to-wire win.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair that featured seven ties and three lead changes before the Green Wave were able to pull out the victory. The first tie of the set came at 1-1 and Tulane grabbed the lead after that and led until a Chandace Tryon kill knotted things up at 24-24. There were five more ties and Houston eventually took a 29-28 lead. An attack error by UH tied things at 29-29 and Martone gave Tulane a 30-29 lead before another attacking error by Houston gave Tulane a 2-1 lead in the match.
An early Green Wave lead vanished and turned into a three point Cougar lead at 16-13, but Tulane battled back to tie the set at 18 apiece. After a Houston kill, Grot and Badawi each converted kills and gave the Olive and Blue the lead for good. Another Badawi kill and a pair of successful attacks from Jovic helped the Green Wave cap off their victory in the fourth set. Badawi had four kills in the final set win, while Grot and Jovic each chipped in three kills.
With the victory, Tulane improved to 4-9 overall and are 1-0 in Conference USA play. The Green Wave will be back in action on Sunday, September 26 at Fogelman Arena to take on Houston at 1:00.