Oct. 23, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane volleyball team dropped the first two sets of their Conference USA match versus UTEP on Sunday (October, 23), but rallied to send the game into a fifth set at Fogelman Arena. However, the Green Wave was unable to carry that momentum all the way to the end and fell in five sets by scores of 19-25, 15-25, 25-21, 25-17, 13-15.
"We saw that we need to focus on the quality of the players that are on the court, not quantity, and we were trying to run a system that was not working for us," said Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic. "We moved to a five-one and it worked for us. It really changed the momentum of the game. It could have gone either way at the end, unfortunately we had some mistakes and our block was out of place a couple of times. That was the difference in a close game."
Tulane (8-14, 3-8 C-USA) raced out to an 8-2 edge in the early stages of the opening set, but UTEP responded with six straight points to tie things at eight. After the two teams exchanged points for the next few service rotations, UTEP took the lead for good on a Jeane Horton kill to make it 11-10. The Miners pushed their lead to three, 17-14, and eventually closed out the set with seven of the final 12 points to grab the 25-19 victory in set one.
It was UTEP (10-13, 6-5 C-USA) that got out to an early lead in the second set as they moved out to an 8-3 lead. Their lead hovered between three and five points before a four-point burst moved the Miners ahead by a score of 19-12. UTEP posted a .414 hitting percentage in the second frame and eventually walked away with the 25-15 win to go ahead two sets to none.
The third set saw a little bit of a different attack on offense for the Green Wave, moving from a six-two attack to the five-one system. That was the spark that Tulane needed and they began their comeback by hitting .419 in a third set victory. The frame featured 12 ties and four lead changes, the final change coming on a kill from Azarri Badawi to make it 20-19. The Olive and Blue scored five of the final seven points and claimed their first set win of the afternoon when Anna Wruck posted a solo block to close it out at 25-21.
The final set was tied at four points, but UTEP posted four straight tallies and led 8-4 at the midway point. The Green Wave sliced that lead to just one, 11-10, but couldn't get over the hump and the Miners sided out with the home team the rest of the stanza to claim the match.
"(Milica) got confident and did a good job playing all the way around the final three sets. Cori is growing into what we think is going to be our go-to hitter on the outside in the future. That is why we switched her from the middle. She can really pass and hit on the outside, which really helps out team."
Martone paced all players with 23 kills on 54 attacks, hitting .273, while Jovic (13) and Badawi (12) both reached double figures. Nikki Osuna collected 22 digs to lead everyone and Mandelbaum collected her eighth double-double of the year with 44 assists and 13 digs.
As a team, Tulane committed 14 errors in the first two sets and hit .155, but in the final three sets the Green Wave claimed a .360 attacking clip and made just nine total errors. Overall, the Olive and Blue posted a .268 hitting percentage with 65 kills and 23 errors on 157 total attacks. They posted more kills (65-63), service aces (6-5), digs (63-60) and blocks (10-8) than UTEP. The Miners, however, committed just 17 attacking errors to 23 for Tulane and the Green Wave had ten service errors in the match.
Tulane hits the road for their next two matches, starting next Friday, October 28 when they travel to East Carolina for a 6:00 Central time match. Marshall will await the Green Wave on Sunday, October 30 for a Noon Central time start in Huntington, W.Va.
Single game tickets for the remainder of the 2011 home slate are on sale now and can be purchased by contacting the Tulane Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE or visiting the Tulane Team Shop inside the James Wilson, Jr. Center between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.