Nov. 8, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - Tulane's volleyball squad accomplished a feat no other Conference USA opponent has done during the 2013 season, handing the Tulsa Golden Hurricane their first league loss in a straight-set victory at the Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday evening.
Tulane (23-3, 9-2) had not defeated Tulsa (21-5, 10-1) since the 2009 season, losing six straight to one of the country's top programs. However, Tulane needed just three sets on Friday night to get past the previously undefeated Golden Hurricane, winning 25-19, 25-23 and 25-16.
"I think we executed our plan well," said director of Tulane volleyball Sinisa Momic. "We were able to stop their hitters early and we were able to understand what their offense was trying to do. On top of that, we had a great dig match. We had 80 digs, and that was against the team leading the nation in digs. We pushed their offense, giving them fewer options as the match went on. Our offense outmatched them and our defense outmatched them, and I'm proud of the team."
Senior setter Mel Mandelbaum jumped two spots in the Tulane career assists list, jumping both Luna Rebrovic for third and Megan Murdock for second. With 44 assists - over twice as many as Tulsa notched as a team - Mandelbaum now has 3,399 for her illustrious career.
Junior libero Grace Weaver also notched a notable feat, as her 25 digs gives her 424 on the season, passing Kelli Dickson's 2005 dig total of 410 for the tenth-most in a single season in Tulane history, and actually tying Karlyn Daly's 2002 total for the ninth-most in single season history. Weaver's huge total on the night - a match high - puts her just 23 shy of moving to seventh on the single-season record books, passing Kim Sentmore's 438 dig total in 2000 and Kelli Dickson's 446 dig total achieved during the 2004 campaign.
Weaver was not the only Green Wave volleyballer to have a solid night digging the ball, as senior Cori Martone notched 21 digs, while Mandelbaum (13) and freshman Annie Shurtz (10) also posted double-digit dig totals.
The 80 digs on the season are the second-most by the Green Wave this season, as they posted a dig total of 86 against Youngstown State in early September.
Offensively, freshman Tea Juric led the team in kills with 16, while Martone added 14, giving her a double-double. Mandelbaum also posted a double-double on the evening.
At the net, Tulane only posted six blocks, with freshman Sarah Strasner leading the way with four total (one solo). Shurtz chipped in three total (one solo).
The Green Wave went into the break with a 2-0 lead over the league's best team, thanks in part to 17 digs from Martone and 11 from Weaver. Offensively, Juric and Martone tied for the team lead in kills with nine through the first two sets.
While the Golden Hurricane led early during the first set, Tulane stormed back to take the lead after tying things at 12. From that point forward, the Green Wave led through the remainder of the action. Leading 15-14, Tulane scored the next four points on kills by Juric and Martone, as well as a block from Shurtz and an attack error from Tulsa. Despite a valiant comeback attempt by the Golden Hurricane to put things at 20-19, the Green Wave rattled off the next five points to take the first set.
Looking to take the lead going into intermission, things were a little bit closer, but Tulane still came out on top. The set was tied at 20, 21, 22 and 23, but Tulane posted two straight points on kills from Martone and Juric to end the set.
The final set was all Tulane, however, as Tulane jumped out to a 13-2 lead. They didn't let down, either, as Juric paced the squad with seven kills along the way.
Tulane avenged their loss to North Texas last Sunday in the biggest way on Friday night. With this victory, the Green Wave are riding high as they head into the last three matches of the regular season.
"Coming from a loss, we understood that we had to be prepared to play tough matches," added Momic. "There is no room for sloppy play or sloppy moments. We have to be focused, and that is how we played tonight. Even during game two, when we only won by two, we played focused. Our stats show that we played amazing on defense, and our offense was good, as usual."
With the straight-set victory, Tulane moves to 13-0 in three-set matches this season.
Tulane will head down to Texas on Sunday for a match against Rice. The tilt between the two teams will begin at 1pm CST, and live stats can be followed on TulaneGreenWave.com.
Fans can follow the Green Wave volleyball program on Twitter (GreenWaveVB) or on Facebook at facebook.com/GreenWaveVolleyball.