Oct. 30, 2009
DALLAS - Five Green Wave players posted double-digit kill totals as the Tulane University volleyball team defeated Conference USA foe SMU, 3-1, Friday evening at Moody Coliseum.
The Green Wave dropped the opening stanza, 25-18, but rattled off back-to-back 25-20 wins and a 26-24 decision to run their winning streak to six. With the victory, Tulane maintains a share of the C-USA lead at 10-2 in league action and improves to 15-6 overall. SMU, meanwhile, saw its 11-match home-court winning streak come to an end as the Mustangs fall to 17-8 on the year and 7-4 in conference play.
"We started off a little slow, and SMU was tough defensively and blocking well," first-year Tulane head volleyball coach Sinisa Momic said. "From the second set on, we got everyone involved and it's good to know that we have that in us. We're not just relying on our outsides.
"Our overall defense was solid, we had some key blocks and overall, our offense was productive. I'm pleased with our overall effort. Tonight, the offense looked like what we want it to look like each time we take the floor."
As a team, the Green Wave hit .266 for the match with 64 kills and 19 errors in 169 swings, including .300-or-better showings by freshman right-side hitter Milica Jovic (.360), junior middle blocker Lindsey Shepard (.348) and rookie middle Marija Milosavljevic (.346). Sophomore outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic paced the Tulane offense with 14 kills while Milosavljevic had 13, senior outside Ksenija Vlaskovic added 12 and the both Jovic and Shepard had 11.
A big reason for the offense's performance was a solid effort by senior Rachel Lindelow, who posted a 52 assists, three kills and a pair of aces, and was one of five Tulane players to finish with 10-plus digs with 13. Senior libero Jenn Miller led the team with 18 digs, followed by Djurdjevic and senior defensive specialist Jaye Loyd with 16 each, and Vlaskovic with 12.
Shepard and Jovic shared team-high blocking errors with two assists apiece. Djurdjevic had a pair of aces for a team-leading 16.0 points, while Miller and Loyd had one ace each.
While Tulane won the match, it was the Mustangs who took control of the contest early on. SMU scored seven of the first 10 points in the opening stanza before the Green Wave whittled the deficit to one at 12-11. The Mustangs responded with a 5-0 run to make it a 16-11 affair and never looked back en route to a seven-point decision.
The second set began as a back-and-forth battle as the two teams traded the first 14 points. With the score knotted at 7-all, the Green Wave went on a 10-2 run to take a commanding 17-9 lead. SMU fought back to get back into the stanza, but could get no closer than four at 22-18 and Tulane tied the match with a five-point win.
Set No. 3 followed a similar script and the Wave used an earlier push for points to take a 10-5 lead and never trailed the rest of the frame. The fourth, set, however, was a much different story.
In what proved to be the final frame, the two teams battled to a 14-14 deadlock midway through the set before Tulane used a 4-0 run to take a 20-16 lead. SMU rallied to tie the set again at 23-all and staved off match-point at 24-23 on a Tulane serving error. A Milosavljevic kill put Tulane back on top, 25-24, and Vlaskovic provided the winning point with her final kill of the night to spark the Green Wave celebration.
"Whenever we had the lead, they kept fighting back," Momic said of the Mustangs. "They're a good team and kept fighting until the end, but we were steady and that was the difference in the match. SMU is a quality team and it looks like we might be peaking at the right moment."
Dana Powell led SMU with a match-high 20 kills while Kathryn Wilkerson and Kendra Kahanek tallied 14 and 12, respectively. Kelli Becerra finished one shy of Lindelow's assist total with 51 and was one of five Mustangs to post double-digit dig totals in the loss.
Carly Bergquist led all players with 19 digs, followed by Powell with 18, Becerra with 14 and both Wilkerson and Sidney Stewart had 13. SMU out-blocked Tulane, 11.5-3.5, and Kahanek led the front-line effort with two solo stuffs and five block assists.
The Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Nov. 1, when they take on Tulsa at 1 p.m. From there, Tulane returns home to Fogelman Arena where the Green Wave will play host to Rice and Houston on Nov. 6 and 8, respectively. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.