Oct. 6, 2013
CHARLOTTE - Tulane's volleyball team scored their 17th win of the season on Sunday, as they defeated Conference USA foe Charlotte in straight-sets at the Halton Arena behind strong play from freshman Tea Juric and senior Cori Martone.
The Green Wave (17-2, 3-1) swept the 49ers (10-9, 0-4), 25-19, 25-21 and 25-16 thanks in part to 15 kills from Martone and 14 kills from Juric. Martone also added ten digs for a double-double, while Juric hit .480 (14 kills, two errors, 25 attempts) to lead the squad.
Tulane only used seven players in the match, hitting .308 as a team and holding the 49ers to a miniscule .061 attack percentage.
Junior libero Grace Weaver posted a team-high 14 digs while also tying for the team lead in service aces with one. Senior setter Mel Mandelbaum, who also had a service ace, recorded 34 assists to lead the Green Wave. Mandelbaum added 13 digs for her fifth double-double of the year.
While Tulane ended up getting past the 49ers in just one hour and 26 minutes, Charlotte put up a fight during just their fourth C-USA match since rejoining the conference in July after leaving in 2005.
"We had some issues with stopping some of their attackers," stated Tulane director of volleyball Sinisa Momic. "The first two games were tied early on, but we were able to pull away. We ended up controlling each of the three games. Although we had some issues blocking certain attackers, we managed to control the match."
With the score tied at 16 in set one, Tulane scored three of the next four points - two on errors by Charlotte and one on a kill from junior Anna Wruck - to go up 19-17. Weaver notched her lone service ace for Tulane's 20th point before a trio of freshmen in Juric, Strasner and Annie Shurtz joined forces with senior setter Mel Mandelbaum to take over and record a series of kills to end the game. While the Green Wave hit only .286 during the set, Tulane managed to hold Charlotte to a hitting percentage of .000.
Set two was the closest of the three sets on the day, with Tulane only having won by four when it was all said and done. Tulane had a lead at 3-2, but wouldn't have another lead until 18-17. Charlotte recaptured the lead until two kills by Martone sandwiched an attack error by the 49ers to put the Green Wave up 21-20. A kill by Charlotte tied the match for the final time, as Shurtz tallied back-to-back kills before the 49ers ended the set with back-to-back attack errors.
While the second set was the closest, the third set was the exact opposite, as Tulane established a lead early and led throughout. The Green Wave scored six of the first seven points to go up 6-1. Despite valiant efforts by the 49ers to cut their deficit, Tulane managed to stay ahead of them by at least three points from the beginning to the end. Tulane scored three straight at the end of the match on a Charlotte error and kills from Juric and Wruck to notch their third league win in four matches.
With Tulane having defeated Marshall in straight-sets on Friday, Sunday's straight-set victory marks the first time the Green Wave have scored back-to-back straight-set wins in conference play since having done so against East Carolina and Southern Miss on Oct. 16 and Oct. 19 of the 2011 season.
With 17 wins on the year, Tulane is just one win shy of tying their win total from 2009, which was the last season the Green Wave made the NCAA tournament.
"We knew that we have a really good team," added Momic. "We have a team with good chemistry and good players. Our freshmen have turned out to be leaders in some areas of the game. They can all improve, too. However, with the way we've played, we may be considered one of the top teams in the conference, so other teams will prepare appropriately and it's going to get tougher."
Tulane will have a short week, as the team only plays one match in the next seven days. On Sunday, Oct. 13, the Green Wave will return to North Carolina as they square off against C-USA opponent East Carolina in Greenville, N.C.
Fans can follow the Green Wave volleyball program on Twitter (GreenWaveVB) or on Facebook at facebook.com/GreenWaveVolleyball.