Oct. 25, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's volleyball program guaranteed themselves a Conference USA winning record this season with a victory over Florida Atlantic in straight sets on Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse, moving to 7-1 in the league play and 21-2 overall with six matches left on the season.
Tulane posted one of their top defensive efforts as a team in ridding Florida Atlantic (9-13, 1-7) by scores of 25-15, 25-22 and 25-23. The straight-set win was Tulane's 12th of the season, as they are 12-0 in three sets on the year.
The Green Wave recorded nine blocks as a team, compared to only three by Florida Atlantic. Friday's match marked the first C-USA match of the year that Tulane had more blocks than their opponent. Tulane also tallied 16 more digs than the Owls, as they totaled 49 to Florida Atlantic's 33.
"Our goal was to try and get better as a team this match," said director of Tulane volleyball Sinisa Momic. "Our blocking was much better and we had more digs than Florida Atlantic. We managed to play well during crucial points."
Individually, junior Anna Wruck paced the team in blocks with five total assists, while freshman Annie Shurtz chipped in four and freshman Sarah Strasner and senior Cori Martone added three block assists each while Martone added a solo block. Freshman Tea Juric added a block, as well, giving Tulane nine blocks as a team for the third time in the last four matches.
Every member of the Green Wave who logged action on Friday recorded a dig. Martone led the way with 12, while Mandelbaum added ten for the only other double-digit dig number for the Green Wave. Junior Grace Weaver (nine), Shurtz (eight), Juric (seven), Wruck (one), junior Olivia Utt (one) and freshman Sarah Strasner (one) all got in on the action, as well.
Offensively, Martone notched a match-high 12 kills for a double-double - her seventh of the season - while Shurtz recorded ten. Juric (eight), Strasner (six), Wruck (four) and Mandelbaum (four) all recorded kills, too.
Weaver and Utt each tallied a service ace, tying for the team-lead.
Mandelbaum, for the 21st time this season, led the squad in assists with 35.
"I think Mel did a great job finding options offensively," added Momic. Friday's third set saw one of the more exciting, back-and-forth games of the season. In the set, there were 13 tie scores and six lead changes, ultimately going in favor of the Green Wave for the match win. The Owls actually outhit Tulane .200 to .194, but Tulane's defense was key in the 25-23 win. The Green Wave posted five blocks during the set, thanks in part to Martone's lone solo block and her three block assists. Strasner notched three block assists during the action, while Wruck and Shurtz teamed up for a block assist each.
Despite the nail-biter in the third set, Tulane looked like they would make it a quick night in the first set, as they came out firing on all cylinders on their way to a 25-15 win. Three members of the Green Wave team notched three kills each, while the team held the Owls to a miniscule .026 hitting percentage. The Green Wave led from the beginning to the end.
Things were a bit different in set two. Despite Martone recording six kills, and Tulane hitting a match-high .353 in the set, the Green Wave did not lead until they went up 15-14. From that point forward, Tulane took charge on their way to a 25-22 win.
While securing a winning record in C-USA is an accomplishment the program has not achieved since the 2009 season when they went 10-10, Tulane will not settle for a 7-7 record.
"We are looking forward to two tough road trips in league play," stated Momic. "We are going to start preparing for those tomorrow."
Tulane will return to the court on Nov. 1 in Birmingham, Ala., to take on UAB. The Green Wave will then travel west for a match against North Texas in Denton, Texas, two days later.
Before returning to Devlin Fieldhouse on Nov. 15, Tulane will also play road matches at Tulsa (Nov. 8) and at Rice (Nov. 10).
Fans can follow the Green Wave volleyball program on Twitter (GreenWaveVB) or on Facebook at facebook.com/GreenWaveVolleyball.