Nov. 1, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - It was an improved effort across the board for the Green Wave but, in the end, it was not enough as the Tulane University volleyball team dropped a hard-fought, 3-2 decision to Conference USA-leading Tulsa on Thursday evening in the Hertz Center.
The Wave jumped out to an early 2-1 lead, sandwiching 25-23 and 25-21 victories around a 25-22 loss in set No. 2. From there, however, the Golden Hurricane cruised to a 25-14 set-four win to extend the match and scored six of the first seven points in the final frame en route to a 15-7 victory.
With the loss, Tulane's seventh five-set loss of the year and second in as many matches, the Green Wave fell to 5-19 overall and 3-10 in C-USA play. Tulsa, meanwhile, won its sixth-straight contest to improve to 19-8 on the season and 12-1 in conference action.
"At some moments, we played great and actually had everyone on the court giving full effort," Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic said. "That's been rare this year and when we did that, we were winning. With us winning games one and three and losing game two 25-22 when hitting .000 (12 kills, 12 errors, 51 attempts), if we maybe hit .100 we could have beat this team in three. But we didn't.
"The main reason why they were better than us tonight is they controlled the ball on their side of the net. Whenever it mattered, we had bad touches. We were not controlling the plays. Defense, covering our hitters, blocking touches at the end, arm swings or whatever it was, they were better at it. They have one hitter in (Tyler) Henderson who is probably the best in the conference, and I thought we did a really good job on her. What it came down to at the end was ball control and that's where we lost."
Three Green Wave players - senior outside hitter Izabela Grot, junior setter Mel Mandelbaum and senior setter Lilly Wolfe - posted double-doubles and sophomore libero Grace Weaver tallied a career-high 32 digs in the match. Weaver's dig total is tied for the third-most in Tulane single-match history and was just four shy of the school-record of 36 set by Visnja Djurdjevic against SMU on Sept. 27, 2009.
Grot tallied a team-high 13 kills and 19 digs while Mandelbaum and Wolfe had 22 and 20 assists, respectively, to go with 12 digs apiece. Junior outside hitter Milena Dragovic, who had eight kills against Tulsa, rounded out five Green Wave players with double-digit dig totals with 18.
Sophomore middle blocker Olivia Utt was second on the squad with nine kills while both sophomore middle Anna Wruck and senior right-side hitter Milica Jovic had seven each. Wruck had a team-high nine blocks (2 solo, 7 assists)
Tulane got off to a good start, running out to a 12-8 lead. Following a Tulsa timeout, the Golden Hurricane went on a 7-0 run to take a 15-12 lead, but Tulane battled back to tie the score at 21-all and went on to win by two. The see-saw battle continued in the second frame. This time, Tulane rallied from a 12-5 deficit to hold a 17-14 edge only to see Tulsa score 11 of the final 16 points to come away with a three-point decision.
The two teams traded the first 36 points of the pivotal third set and Tulane finally created some separation with a 2-0 run to take a 20-18 lead it would not relinquish. The Golden Hurricane cut the deficit to one twice down the stretch, but the Wave were able to close things out and claim a three-point win.
Despite claiming momentum of the contest and holding a 2-1 edge, the final two sets were all Tulsa as the Golden Hurricane never trailed at any point in either stanza. Tulsa scored the first two points of set No. 4 and used a 5-3 run to break a 2-2 tie. Tulane hung tough for a while only to see the Hurricane pull away as the set went on.
Tulsa ran out to a 3-0 lead in the final set and held an 8-4 advantage at the traditional bench switch. From there, the Golden Hurricane scored seven of the final 11 points to maintain sole possession of the top spot in the C-USA standings.
"Everybody is frustrated that this has happened throughout the year," Momic said. "We know that we can be good and we've lost so many tight games and matches. Everybody is pretty determined to change that, and we started off well. We had that fire to change it, but what it comes down to is can you control what you're doing."
Henderson was one of three Tulsa players to post double-digit kill totals and led the way with a match-best 18. Kellie Culbertson was next with 15 kills while Diana Silva finished with 13. Jordan and Bailey Clampitt tallied 28 and 23 assists, respectively, and Jessica Adams had a team-high 23 digs. Carly Boatwright (3 solo, 4 assists) and Ashley Hooper (1 solo, 6 assists) led the Golden Hurricane's front-line defense with seven blocks each.
Tulane returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 4, when the Green Wave close out the home portion of its schedule against SMU at 1 p.m. in the Hertz Center. During that contest, Tulane will honor the 2012 senior class of Grot, Jovic and Wolfe with a special ceremony.
Tickets that match, as well as future Green Wave events, are currently for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.