Nov. 22, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Nikki Osuna posted 12 digs to move into second on Tulane volleyball's single season list, but it wasn't enough as the Green Wave dropped a three-set decision at Southern Miss on Tuesday (November 22) evening inside Reed Green Coliseum. Tulane didn't lead in either of the first two sets and USM overcame an early deficit as the TU fell by scores of 21-25, 13-25, 19-25.
"We started slow in the first game and almost came back, but they closed out the game," said Tulane head coach Sinisa Momic. "Then, instead of pushing harder and getting started earlier, we had a really bad game two. In the third game we switched out right side (hitters), changing Milena and Izabela for Azarri and Milena, and that brought some energy. It wasn't enough and we didn't show what we wanted in our final game. It is not the way we wanted to finish the season."
Southern Miss scored the first four points of the opening set and those points proved to be the deciding factor. The Golden Eagles lead swelled to six points early, 12-6, but Tulane rallied to cut that margin to three points on a Cori Martone kill that made it 14-11. USM's eventually led by seven points, 19-12, but Tulane would use a 7-2 run, capped by a Grace Weaver kill, to get back into the match again at 22-19. After trading points, Southern Miss would tally two of the final three scores to grab the opening set, 25-21.
The second set was controlled by the Golden Eagles from the onset. The home team raced out to an 8-1 lead and that margin swelled to 13 points when Sarah Jane Bowden recorded her sixth kill of the set to make it 22-9. A couple of side out points later the Golden Eagles grabbed a commanding 2-0 lead heading to the intermission.
Martone led all players with 13 kills and was second on the Tulane squad with eight digs. The rookie duo of Utt and Anna Wruck each chipped in five kills, while Wruck posted four blocks in the match to push her season total 124. Elysa Jackson handed out 17 assists to lead the Green Wave.
Osuna's name doesn't often make headlines, but on Tuesday the senior became just the second player to post 500-plus digs in a career. On top of that, Osuna's 12 digs bolstered her season total to 510 and moved her into second place on the single season digs list. Osuna ends her career with a 3.63 digs per-set average, which sits second in the career record books.
"Nikki meant a lot to our program," said Momic. "She came in as a walk-on and quickly worked her way into our back row and became a team leader. She plays so hard every single match. She is one of the better defenders that we have ever had and we are going to miss her."
The Green Wave wrap up the season 9-22, which includes a 4-16 record in Conference USA play.