Sept. 27, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Despite coming out hot the first set, and rallying for a close and exciting fourth game, Tulane dropped their Conference USA opener to UTSA on Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse in four sets.
The Green Wave (13-2, 0-1) posted a victory in the first set, 25-22, behind solid play from freshmen Annie Shurtz and Tea Juric along with senior Cori Martone, but lost the next two, 25-16 and 25-11. Tulane rallied back against UTSA (9-6, 1-0) in the fourth game, but couldn't get past the Roadrunners, eventually falling 27-25.
UTSA, who employed many fast, hard hitting players, seemed overmatched at first, as Shurtz notched seven of her 12 kills in the first set, while Martone and Juric both chipped in five, while junior Grace Weaver added a service ace. Things looked promising for the Green Wave as the team's switched sides after the first set.
However, UTSA made adjustments, and Tulane had a difficult time matching their set one hitting percentage of .317. Throughout the remainder of the match, Tulane was plagued by errors that led to their demise.
"I think we just have to adjust quickly to playing tough teams like this one in our conference," stated Tulane director of volleyball Sinisa Momic. "We were lacking in some defensive strategies, and we were out of position a lot. With strong hitters, you're not going to get many digs if you are out of position. Same thing goes for our blocking. We just have to execute and play a high level of volleyball."
Tulane and UTSA went back and forth during the early portion of the second set. However, UTSA pulled away in the middle of the action to move ahead 15-10. Tulane never managed to dig themselves out of the hole, as the Roadrunners tied up the match at one set a piece.
However, Tulane made things very interesting in the fourth game, as they managed to record 17 digs off hard hits by the Roadrunners. Tulane tied things up at 10 points apiece early on and held a lead of 15-12 after a service ace from freshman Makenzie Freiden and three attack errors on UTSA. The game was high energy from there on out, as the UTSA stormed back to tie things at 18. Martone posted a kill to go ahead before a service error on Tulane tied things at 19. Martone recorded back-to-back kills to move ahead 21-19. However, UTSA took a timeout, gathered their thoughts, and came back to tie things at 22.
With just three more points to score to send the action to a fifth game, Shurtz and Juric notched kills for match point. Unfortunately, Tulane followed that up with back-to-back errors to tie things before UTSA took the lead on a kill. Junior Anna Wruck - who notched three kills on the night - put the Green Wave neck and neck with UTSA at 25, but two more errors by Tulane ended their chances of an amazing comeback.
"We made some unforced errors," added Momic. "But, our defense kept us in that game. If we can keep that momentum, our hitting will get better. We have to have a good combination of passing and hitting together to keep us going."
Senior Mel Mandelbaum put together an outstanding performance in the loss, recording a double-double of 43 assists and 14 digs, both team leads. Mandelbaum also paced the squad with two service aces, while adding four kills.
Martone (14 kills and 10 digs) and Juric (12 kills and 10 digs) posted double-doubles, as well, while Shurtz was second on the squad in kills with 12.
Weaver was the only other Green Wave player in double digits in digs with 10. Weaver, Martone and Frieden all had a service ace.
Tulane was particularly dominate at the net, as they only recorded five total blocks as a team. However, Shurtz, Wruck and Martone all had one solo block each, and freshman Sarah Strasner had two block assists to lead the team.
Tulane will play host to Conference USA foe UTEP on Sunday at 1pm CT at Devlin Fieldhouse. Live stats can be followed on TulaneGreenWave.com, and paid members of the All-Access page will be able to follow live, streaming video of the match.
Single game tickets will be available for $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children.
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.