Sept. 25, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - With a quick glance at the final score, the Tulane University volleyball team's 3-0 win over Conference USA foe Tulsa on Friday night in Fogelman Arena may appear to be a one-sided affair.
The statistics, however, tell a much different story. The Golden Hurricane had more kills (49-47), assists (47-42) and digs (59-58) than the Green Wave did. Neither team had a lead greater than two in the first set and the largest advantage of the night was three by Tulsa on seven occasions over the final two frames.
Tulane actually trailed late in all three sets, but when it was all said and done, the Wave made key plays when they needed to emerge with a 25-23, 25-23, 26-24 win. With the victory, Tulane ran its C-USA regular-season winning streak to 15 while improving to 6-4 on the year and 2-0 in league play. Tulsa, meanwhile, falls to 10-4 overall and 0-1 in C-USA action.
"It really could have gone either way, and the stats show it," first-year Tulane head volleyball coach Sinisa Momic said. "We were tight with them in digs, blocks, the offense was similar, everything was similar. We were lucky to beat them.
"We talked before the match and had a game plan, but we couldn't execute it. Having a game plan and following a game plan are two different things. We couldn't execute in blocking or in our floor defense. That was our weakest point and that is what we need to spend most of our practice time on. Blocking and defense is not working. What saved us is our offense."
Sophomore outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic posted her seventh double-double of the year with a team-best 20 kills to go with 12 digs, two block assists and a pair of aces. She hit .318 for the match with just six errors in 44 swings, and paced the team with 23.0 points. Senior outside Ksenija Vlaskovic was second on the squad in kills with nine while junior middle blocker Lindsey Shepard followed with seven.
Senior setter Rachel Lindelow led all players with 37 assists while senior libero Jenn Miller tallied a match-high 18 digs. Vlaskovic, Djurdjevic and Shepard tied for team-high honors in blocks with two each.
"I think Ksenija and Visnja did their job," Momic said. "Both of them, as usual, were good. If they weren't scoring, at least they weren't making many errors. Everybody else got more sets. Now we need more power from them. We need bigger swings."
The slugfest ensued from the get-go as the two teams traded the first 20 points. The first multiple-point lead did not happen until 22 serves into the match when an ace by Tulsa's Rachel Vukson gave the Golden Hurricane a 12-10 advantage. Tulane rallied to tie the match with back-to-back kills but could not seem to get over the hump, and Tulsa appeared to take control of the match on a Tulane attack error to claim a 23-21 lead.
Following a Green Wave timeout, Tulsa committed a service error, freshman middle blocker Marija Milosavljevic served up an ace and Shepard posted back-to-back kills to give the Tulane a two-point win.
It was a similar story in set No. 2 with the two teams battling to a 7-all deadlock before Tulsa used a 3-0 rally to create a little separation. Tulane battled back to tie the match four times, and reclaimed the lead at 20-19. The Golden Hurricane tied the stanza four times over the next eight serves, but Djurdjevic posted consecutive kills late to give the Green Wave a 2-0 lead going into the locker room at the break.
Tulane led most of the early-going in what proved to be the final set, but with the score tied at 11-all, Tulsa used a 4-1 rally to hold a 15-12 advantage. As they had done all night, the Green Wave pushed for points late and held match point at 24-23. A kill by the Hurricane's Tyler Henderson tied the set but a Kelsey Hancock error made it 25-24, and the combination of Lindelow and Milosavljevic blocked a Tulsa attack to complete the Tulane sweep.
"At the end, when they had to, we came up with a couple of digs," Momic said. "We're good enough to win without being consistent. That's a very positive thing. Now, we have to find a way to be consistent with our defense and blocking. Right now, we're winning, but that might not last if we don't get better."
Henderson led all players with 25 kills and hit a Tulsa-best .444 with just one error in 54 attempts. Jennifer Eichler was the only other player to post double-digit kills on the night with 10 and posted the Golden Hurricane's lone double-double with 15 digs. Jessica Adams tied Eichler for team-high dig honors, while Hannah Stout a paced Tulsa with four block assists.
The Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Sept. 27, when they play host to league foe SMU at 1 p.m. at Fogelman Arena. From there, Tulane will hit the road for three straight road matches in Texas as the Wave will battle Stephen F. Austin on Thursday, Houston on Friday and Rice on Sunday. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.