Nov. 1, 2009
TULSA, Okla. - Outside hitters Visnja Djurdjevic and Ksenija Vlaskovic combined for 31 kills, 14 digs, four aces and four block assists, but it was not enough as the Tulane University volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to Conference USA foe Tulsa Sunday afternoon at the Reynolds Center.
Tulane won the opening stanza, 25-21, before the Golden Hurricane answered with 25-21, 25-23, 25-22 decisions over the next three frames to halt the Green Wave's winning streak at six. With the loss, Tulane falls to 15-7 on the year and 10-3 in C-USA play. Tulsa, meanwhile, improves to 21-5overall and 10-2 in league action.
"Tulsa played great defense," first-year Tulane head volleyball coach Sinisa Momic said. "Our hitters had problems scoring, and at the same time, their hitters got better as the match progressed. They outplayed us. We just have to look at this as a lesson and get back to improve our blocking and defense.
"In our serve receive, we didn't really get aced, but it was an in-system pass so we weren't able to go to our middles as much as we would have liked to. Tulsa performed really well. We have to look ahead, learn from this match what we can and focus on our next opponent."
The Green Wave defense held Tulsa to a .081 attack percentage in the opening stanza, but the Golden Hurricane bounced back to hit a combined to connect at a .318 clip the rest of the way. The match featured six ties and 12 total lead changes, and the difference came on defense where the Hurricane posted 71 digs to Tulane's 54.
Djurdjevic led Tulane with 17 kills, followed by Vlaskovic with 14 and freshman middle blocker Marija Milosavljevic with nine. Senior libero Jenn Miller paced the Green Wave with 15 digs while senior setter Rachel Lindelow tallied a match-high 44 assists. Rookie right-side hitter Milica Jovic led the front-line defense with eight blocks (one solo, seven assists) while junior middle Lindsey Shepard chipped in with seven block assists.
"We started really well," Momic said. "In game one, everything worked. Whatever the play was, we stuffed their best hitters. Tulsa was really relentless in defense and out-dug us by 17. They went after everything. It was close, but again, our blocking worked on and off.
"We couldn't play defense with them. At the end, it was just a matter of time when they would separate themselves because they managed to stop our hitters. In game two, our serve receive fell apart and that's what let them back into the match."
Tulane scored the first six points of the match and stretched the lead to eight at 14-6. The Green Wave advantaged hovered around that mark most of the rest of the way before Tulsa used a 7-2 rally to cut the deficit to three at 23-20. A Djurdjevic kill made it set point, and following a kill by the Golden Hurricane's Tyler Henderson, Jovic and Shepard accounted for the final tally with a block to cap a four-point win.
It was Tulsa's turn to make a big run early in set No. 2 as the Golden Hurricane jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never trailed again. Tulane did not go away quietly and rallied all the way back to knot the stanza at 20-20 on an ace by Vlaskovic. A Tulsa kill and a Golden Hurricane service error retied the contest at 21-all before Henderson sandwiched a pair of kills around a Tulane attack error to tie the match at one set apiece.
The back-and-forth battle continued after the break as the Green Wave rolled out to 5-1 and 7-3 leads early in the third set. Tulsa used a 7-4 rally to tie the set at 11-all, and the two teams traded the next 16 points. With the score knotted at 19-19, the Golden Hurricane got back-to-back kills by Henderson and Jennifer Eichler to take a 21-19 lead they would not relinquish. Tulane hung within a point at 22-21, 23-22 and 24-23 but an attack error by Milosavljevic spelled doom as the Hurricane took a 2-1 lead in the match with a two-point decision.
The slugfest continued in what proved to be the final set and Tulane held a slim 4-2 lead early on. Tulsa scored three straight to take a 5-4 advantage and never trailed again. The Golden Hurricane lead swelled to as many as five at 13-8, but Tulane rallied to make it a one-point affair at 22-21. A Henderson kill halted a 3-0 Green Wave rally to make it 23-21 and later scored the match-deciding point on her final swing to avenge Tulsa's 3-0 loss at Tulane back on Sept. 25 in Fogelman Arena.
Henderson led all players with 26 kills while Eichler was next with 16. Rachel Vukson and Jordan Clampitt combined for 50 of Tulsa's 55 assists and four Golden Hurricane players posted double-digit dig totals. Eichler and Kelsey Hancock tied for match-high dig honors with 16 each while Jessica Adams had 13 and Clampitt finished with 10. Eichler paced the Tulsa front-line defense with one solo block and four block assists.
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, Nov. 6, when they play host to C-USA foe Rice at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. The match against the Owls is the first of three home contests for Tulane to end the regular season as the Wave will battle Houston on Sunday, Nov. 8, and UTEP on Saturday, Nov. 14. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.