Oct. 4, 2013
HUNTINGTON, W. Va. - Fans watching Tulane volleyball square off against the Thundering Herd of Marshall at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W.Va., on Friday evening got their money's worth as the first two sets went into extra points. However, both games went in favor of the visiting Green Wave, and Tulane was able to manage a win in the third to take the victory in straight sets over their Conference USA counterpart.
Tulane (16-2, 2-1) had to come back from an early deficit in the first set to win 32-30, while winning in the second 27-25. After the break, the Green Wave defeated Marshall (8-10, 2-1) handily, 25-21, to give the Thundering Herd their first conference loss of the season.
As a team, Tulane hit .286 with 59 kills - including a third-set attack percentage of .484 - while holding the Thundering Herd to just 39 kills and a .239 hitting clip.
"I think we executed our plan, offensively," said Tulane director of volleyball Sinisa Momic. "Marshall has a really good team, and we went all the way through sets one and two, going point-for-point. At the end, we just kept fighting, and we came up with two great wins. We followed our plan in game three, and came out on top against a really good team."
Senior Cori Martone recorded an outstanding game, with 16 kills on 29 total attempts with just three errors for an attack percentage of .448. The Baton Rouge, La., native also tallied eight digs and two block assists on the evening.
"Cori had a great match," added Momic. "She passed well, blocked well, served well. Everybody really contributed offensively, but Cori had a really good night."
Freshman Tea Juric paced the team in kills with 18, while junior Anna Wruck notched 11 and freshman Annie Shurtz added 10. Wruck also hit well on the evening, hitting .625 (11 kills, one error, 16 total attempts).
Senior Mel Mandelbaum did what she does best: assist. The senior totaled a match-high 48 assists. Junior libero Grace Weaver was the pacesetter in digs, recording 18 of the team's 44. Mandelbaum added eight digs, while Shurtz had five, Juric had three and freshman Makenzie Frieden had two.
Weaver and Juric each had a service ace, tying for the team lead.
Freshman Sarah Strasner - who had a uniform malfunction and wore 11 instead of her usual 13 - led the Green Wave at the net with three block assists. Wruck and Martone managed two block assists each, while Juric, Mandelbaum and Shurtz had one each.
Set one did not look promising for Tulane at the start. Tulane started off in a hole, as Marshall came out and took a 4-0 lead early. However, the Green Wave spread out 23 kills and two blocks across the action to make a triumphant comeback. With Marshall serving match point at 24-21, the Green Wave offense exploded as Martone recorded five kills, while Shurtz added three, Strasner posted two and Juric managed one, while a team-effort by Wruck and Shurtz at the net on a block ended the game. The set marked the highest-scoring game of the season for the Green Wave.
Extra points were needed once again in the second set, but the roles were reversed, as the Thundering Herd managed a solid rally of their own. Tulane held a 20-15 lead at one point, only to see it disappear when Marshall tied the match at 22. An attack error by Tulane temporarily gave Marshall a lead before Shurtz tied things up at 23. With the score tied at 25, a ball-handling error by Marshall and a kill by Juric sealed the deal for the Green Wave.
Unlike the first two sets, the Green Wave managed to hold a lead throughout the entire game, sans a tie at 19. Tulane established a 5-0 lead out of the gate, and never looked back. The Green Wave tallied 20 kills during the action - led by Martone's seven. Despite Marshall cutting Tulane's lead to just three at 23-20, Martone sandwiched two kills around a Marshall point to end the action for the evening.
The straight-set victory was the ninth for the Green Wave on the season, marking the most a Tulane squad has had since the 2008 team posted 11 victories in three sets during their 28-6 season.
With the win, Tulane now also has their first winning record in Conference USA play since they started 1-0 with a victory over Houston to start the 2010 C-USA season.
Tulane will travel south from West Virginia to square off against another Conference USA foe in Charlotte on Sunday. The match will begin at noon CT, and a link to live stats can be found on the volleyball schedule page on TulaneGreenWave.com.
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