Oct. 13, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - It took them four sets - despite posting a season-high 11 point win over a conference opponent in set two - but the Tulane volleyball squad managed their fourth victory in Conference USA play this year as they defeated East Carolina at Minges Coliseum on Sunday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.
Tulane, who now sits at 18-2 overall and 4-1 in league play, posted 25-22 and 25-14 wins in the first two sets on the afternoon before East Carolina (10-12, 1-4) came back after the break to win a set in extra points, 30-28. Tulane, though, was able to close out the day with a 25-21 victory in the fourth set, securing their 18th win on the season.
The Green Wave volleyball program has not posted 18 wins in a season since they went 18-10 in 2009 during their last season making the NCAA Tournament.
Senior setter Mel Mandelbaum recorded a match-high 50 assists on the afternoon, and now sits just five assists shy of moving into fourth overall in career assists in the Tulane volleyball record books. On top of that, Mandelbaum tallied three service aces to lead the Green Wave, including one that earned Tulane the 25th point of the fourth set for the match victory.
The Green Wave as a whole had a solid day digging the ball, as they had five athletes post double-digit digs. Junior libero Grace Weaver led the team with 20, while Juric (13), Mandelbaum (13), freshman Annie Shurtz (13) and Martone (11) posted double-digit dig numbers. Sunday's match marked the first time since Nov. 1 of last year that Tulane had five athletes with double-digit dig numbers.
"I think we were kind of up and down today," said director of Tulane volleyball Sinisa Momic. "ECU has a good team, and they gave us a really tough match."
Looking to avenge a loss to ECU last season - the only one Tulane has suffered in the history between the two programs - Tulane started off slow on Sunday, falling behind 10-4 in the first set. However, the Green Wave stormed back to tie things at 15 before trading points with the Pirates until going up 18-17. Tulane managed to score seven of the next 12 points in the set for the win.
"We had a slow start in game one, but I was proud of how we managed to come back," added Momic.
Set two would be much different.
Despite the action being close early on, Tulane managed to take a commanding lead behind stellar digging from Weaver - who had ten in the set - while Juric added six kills to pace the team. Hitting .289 in the set for the highest hitting percentage in a set on the day, coupled with holding ECU to a hitting percentage of .143, Tulane posted their most lopsided victory against a Conference USA opponent in a set this season.
"We played on a much higher level than them in set two," stated Momic.
ECU needed extra points in the third set, but recorded their first win on the afternoon. Martone had 12 kills during the action. The fourth set was close from start to finish. Tulane took their first two-point lead at 9-7, and stayed ahead of the Pirates throughout the remainder of the match.
"We had a tough battle during the third set, but we came out on top in the fourth," mentioned Momic. "We didn't play our best. Our passing wasn't on a high enough level to maintain a smooth offense. We weren't able to use our middles like we wanted to because of our passing. But overall, we showed that we are a strong team that can win matches even when we don't play the way we should."
The Green Wave will return to Devlin Fieldhouse for their next match on Friday, as they play host to Southern Miss at 7pm CT.
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