Nov. 1, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Tulane's volleyball team had a strong offensive showing, thanks in part to 18 kills by freshman Tea Juric and 17 kills by senior Cori Martone, to allow them to get past UAB in four sets on Friday night at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala.
The Green Wave (22-2, 8-1) dropped the second set on the night, 26-24, to UAB (18-10, 5-5), but won set one in extra points, 28-26, before capturing the final two sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-22, respectively, for their eighth Conference USA victory of the season.
Tulane needed extra points in the first set despite outhitting the Blazers by almost 80 percentage points. But during the very next game, UAB evened things after Tulane managed to just hit .188 as a team. During the second game, there were 11 tie scores and five lead changes. It was the first game Tulane has dropped to an opponent since losing set one to Southern Miss on Oct. 18.
"The first two games, we didn't play as well as we wanted, especially on defense," said director of Tulane volleyball Sinisa Momic. "We had a few key points that Tea managed to score in game one. But in game two, our digging didn't go very well."
Coming out of the break with the match tied, Tulane regrouped and went on to play outstanding offense and defense. In set three, Tulane hit .316 as a team, while recording 19 digs and three team blocks. Martone, Juric and junior Anna Wruck all had four kills during the set, while the Green Wave held the Blazers to a match-low hitting percentage of .079.
With momentum in their favor, Tulane came out strong in the fourth and final set. Other than a tie at 1-1, Tulane led throughout the game, holding a lead by as many as eight points. The Green Wave had 25 digs in the fourth game, including seven from freshman Annie Shurtz and six from junior libero Grace Weaver.
"We just managed to control our defense, and in the end, we finished with 22 more digs than UAB," added Momic. "That's a really good adjustment at the end against a really good team. We showed our character and figured out how to win, even in moments where we didn't play well."
Martone and Juric both had solid outings on the night, as they both managed to post hitting percentages above .300. Martone notched a hitting percentage of .324, while Juric was right behind her with an average of .317.
Freshman Sarah Strasner also had a stellar offensive showing, recording seven kills on just 12 attacks while posting no errors for a hitting percentage of .583.
Juric and Martone managed double-doubles on the evening, as they posted 14 and 11 digs, respectively. Senior Mel Mandelbaum also had a double-double, as she tallied a match-high 49 assists and 15 digs.
Weaver paced the team in digs with 17. Shurtz tied with Mandelbaum for second on the team in digs on the evening with 15.
The Green Wave managed nine blocks as a team, including solo blocks by Martone, Juric and Shurtz. Wruck led the way for Tulane with five block assists on the night.
Juric, Mandelbaum, Shurtz, Martone and junior Olivia Utt all had one service ace a piece.
Martone reached a milestone on the evening, as she moved into tenth in Tulane history in career kills, passing Anastasia Kenon. Martone has 1,241 kills for her career, and is now just 43 kills shy of moving past Shannon Hergert for ninth place in Green Wave history.
Mandelbaum needs just 49 assists to move to third overall in school history, passing Luna Rebrovic. Mandelbaum currently sits at 3,311 career assists.
Tulane will travel to Denton, Texas, for a 1pm CT match against North Texas on Sunday. Live stats will be made available on TulaneGreenWave.com.
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