Oct. 18, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Despite a great effort from the Southern Miss Golden Eagles volleyball team, Tulane's volleyball program secured their 19th victory of the season in a four-set win at Devlin Fieldhouse on Friday evening, in front of the largest crowd of the season in attendance for the annual Dig Pink match.
Tulane (19-2, 5-1) fell behind early, dropping the first set to Southern Miss (11-10, 2-4) before rallying for wins in sets two (25-19), three (25-23) and four (25-23), giving the Green Wave their most wins since posting a 28-6 record as C-USA champs in 2008.
"I think Southern Miss played well, and we were kind of sluggish in the beginning while not producing, offensively," said director of Tulane volleyball Sinisa Momic. "We also missed some defensive assignments. But, I give our girls credit for fighting through all of that. We made some great blocks, and made some offensive adjustments towards the end for the win. It wasn't our prettiest match, but Southern Miss is a good team, and this is a great win."
Freshman Annie Shurtz led the Green Wave in kills with 18, while fellow freshman Tea Juric recorded 15. Senior Cori Martone chipped in 14 kills and freshman Sarah Strasner added 11, as the team managed 66 kills overall to Southern Miss' 51.
Senior setter Mel Mandelbaum had another milestone moment, as she recorded her 3,145th career assist to pass Rachel Lindelow for the fourth-place spot in career assists at Tulane. Oddly enough, Lindelow was on the opposing sideline, as she has served as an assistant coach with the Golden Eagles volleyball program since the beginning of this season.
"(The coaching staff) is getting old when we start seeing our former players coaching," added Momic.
Mandelbaum finished the match with 57 assists, two-shy of her season high.
Defensively, junior libero Grace Weaver put together another outstanding match, notching 18 digs to lead the match. Juric added 11, giving her a double-double on the evening.
Tulane posted nine total blocks, including two solo blocks and four overall from Strasner. Martone had four total blocks, while junior Anna Wruck managed three total blocks and Juric added two.
Sets three and four were incredibly close, as both teams matched each other's intensity on the floor, hoping to earn the victory after trading sets during the first two games. Tulane led from the 13th point throughout the remainder of the third set, but Southern Miss stayed within two points the entire time. Tulane mimicked their performance in the fourth set, overtaking the lead at the 13th point once again, and closing the match out on a kill by Shurtz.
Southern Miss came out strong to start the match, leading by as many as seven at multiple points throughout the first set. Other than scoring the first point of the set, Tulane was behind from start to finish.
The Green Wave evened things out in the second game, behind .378 hitting by the team. Shurtz recorded seven kills to pace the squad, while four others recorded at least two. Weaver tallied seven digs in the set, and even though Southern Miss posted their highest hitting percentage in a set during the second game (.300), Tulane turned the tables and led from the beginning of the action until the 25th point.
On top of earning the win, Tulane did so in front of 500-plus fans in attendance for the annual Dig Pink match, where proceeds from ticket sales go to the Side-Out Foundation, a non-profit organization created to make a difference in the lives of breast cancer patients and their families by supporting clinical trials, increasing patient support services and educating communities.
The Green Wave traded in their regular Olive and Blue jerseys for pink ones, while Southern Miss' libero donned a pink jersey of her own. Devlin Fieldhouse was decked out in pink ribbons and balloons, and many fans wore pink to raise awareness for breast cancer.
"One of our goals was to have a good match, digging-wise for the purpose of this event," stated Momic. "It's a great cause. This is an event that always gets (our players) motivated."
Tulane will return to Devlin Fieldhouse on Sunday for a 1pm CT tilt against C-USA foe FIU.
Single game tickets will be available for $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children.
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 am to 5 pm. 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.