Oct. 1, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - As the temperatures outside continues its descent, the competition inside Fogelman Arena was heating up on Friday evening, with the Tulane volleyball team dropping a five-set decision to SMU. The Mustangs stayed perfect in Conference USA play, even though the Green Wave held the advantage in nearly every statistical category, with Tulane dropping the match by scores of 25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 18-25, 8-15.
"At times, we played really well tonight," said Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic. "The first set was probably one of the best of the season for us, but, then again, SMU is an experienced team that has played together for a long time. They kept up with us and played good defense. Our problem was that when it mattered we don't have a player that wants to take over and score when it matters. We are improving with each match, but we still have times that we struggle."
In the opening set, Tulane and SMU traded early leads and sat knotted at 10-10 before an Azarri Badawi kill and a block from Lindsey Shepard gave the Green Wave the lead for good. Izabela Grot had seven kills on nine attacks, while Milica Jovic chipped in six kills. Freshman Mel Mandelbaum handed out 15 assists and added ten digs to post a double-double in the opening set.
The second set was tied at 8-8, but four straight points from the Mustangs gave them the lead and they held on to even things up at one set apiece. SMU built a five point advantage, but Tulane cut that deficit to 16-14 on a kill from Lindsey Shepard. It was still a two-point advantage for the visitors, 19-17, before SMU strung together six of the final eight points to head to the intermission tied with the Olive and Blue.
Tulane grabbed a 25-22 win in the third set behind seven more kills from Grot and a .300 team hitting percentage. After falling behind 6-4 to start the set, the Olive and Blue reeled off seven straight points, including three kills from Grot, and didn't trail the rest of the set. SMU pulled within one point three different times down the stretch, but Jovic and Cori Martone closed out the set with kills.
The Mustangs led throughout the fourth set to knot things up at 2-2 and carried that over into the fifth set, racing out to a 4-0 lead and eventually taking the finale to claim the match. Tulane committed 11 hitting errors in the final two sets, but SMU (11-3, 3-0 C-USA) had just one misstep in the finale tow sets.
As a team, Tulane held the edge in kills (72-64), assists (72-57) and digs (82-59), but SMU posted six blocks to just five for TU and the Mustangs held the advantage in attacking percentage (.297-.249).
Grot led all players with 25 kills, setting a career-high, and Jovic belted out 21 kills to improve her former best in that category. After posting a double-double in the opening set, Mandelbaum totaled 25 digs and 65 assists to notch career-bests in each. Jovic also posted a double-double, adding 13 digs to her kill total, while Martone boasted ten kills and 15 digs in the loss.
Tulane will hit the road and look to pull their Conference USA record back to .500 against undefeated Tulsa. The Green Wave are 4-11 overall and sit 1-2 in C-USA play as they head into their 1:00 matchup with the Golden Hurricane on Sunday, October 3.