Aug. 3, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University volleyball standout Sara Radosevic was named to the preseason All-Conference USA Volleyball Team, and the Green Wave were picked to finish sixth in the 12-team conference, the C-USA Office announced Thursday on a vote of league coaches.
In addition to Radosevic, Tulane returns six other letterwinners - including four starters - from last year's squad. Among the list of returnees is sophomore setter Luna Rebrovic, who claimed C-USA All-Freshman Team honors in 2005. Last season, the Green Wave went through an up-and-down year that was partially interrupted by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent move to College Station, Texas, and the campus of Texas A&M following the storm.
Despite going 3-14 during the regular season, Tulane put it all together in the C-USA Tournament to defeat host Rice and Tulsa to advance to the tournament semifinals for the first time since 1997. Joining the team in 2006 are a trio of true freshmen - setter/right-side hitter Rachel Lindelow (Mandeville, La.), libero Jenn Miller (San Pedro, Calif.) and outside hitter/middle blocker Ksenija Vlaskovic (Pozarevac, Serbia & Montenegro).
"Last year was a learning experience in every meaning of the word," second-year head coach Liz Kritza said. "These players, like every Tulane student-athlete, faced a season that was a collective effort of sheer determination to merely get back on our feet and stay in the game when we were dealt an unprecedented blow. This group rose to the challenge. The experiences of the 2005 season, both on and off the court, helped bond them together like no other team I've ever been associated with.
"We still have a relatively young team this season, but this group matured a great deal throughout last year's experiences. They are very serious-minded and very driven as they showed during their offseason training. We are ready to take another step in building this program, and the incoming freshmen only add to our excitement about competing this upcoming season."
Radosevic, a sophomore outside hitter from Zagreb, Croatia, earned the preseason honor following a rookie campaign where she led the team with 439 points, 388 kills and a 5.24 kill-per-game average.
The preseason distinction is the latest in a laundry list of honors received by Radosevic, who claimed earned honors at the conference, state, regional and national levels. In 2005, she was named American Volleyball Coaches Association Midwest Region, C-USA and Louisiana Freshman of the Year, claimed first-team All-Louisiana and second-team All C-USA recognition, earned a spot on the AVCA All-Midwest Region and garnered honorable-mention All-America honors.
A C-USA All-Freshman Team honoree, Radosevic was even better in the postseason where she averaged 5.46 kills, 1.54 digs, 0.85 aces and 0.54 blocks per game en route to earning C-USA All-Tournament recognition. She finished the year ranked second in C-USA in kills-per-game and ninth among all NCAA Division I players. Her kills average also ranked tops in the nation among freshman hitters, outdistancing Princeton's Parker Henritze (4.73 kills per game) by more than half a kill per game.
Radosevic posted double-digit kill totals in 19 of the Green Wave's 21 matches last season, including 10 20-plus kill outings and a career-best 34 vs. Tulsa (Nov. 18) in the C-USA Tournament quarterfinals. In addition to her performance at the net, Radosevic also led the team with 36 service aces - including a season-high five in the opening round of the 2005 C-USA Tourney - while chipping in with 184 digs (2.49/g) and 29 blocks (0.39/g).
Defending C-USA Champion Marshall was picked to repeat as league winner again in 2006, and Thundering Herd outside hitter Kelly-Anne Billingy was named Preseason Player of the Year. Radosevic and Billingy are joined on the Preseason All C-USA squad by Marshall libero Maggie Arias and outside hitter Stephanie Cahill, UAB outside hitter Ivana Bozic, Houston outside hitter Justine Farmer and middle blocker Becca Sartori, Rice middle blocker Tessa Kuykendall, SMU middle blocker Natalie Peters, and Tulsa setter Julia Silva and outside hitter Kassiana Urnau.
2006 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON COACHES POLL 1. Marshall (8) 2. Houston (4) 3. SMU 4. Tulsa 5. Rice 6. Tulane 7. East Carolina 8. Memphis 9. UCF 10. UAB 11. UTEP 12. Southern Miss first place votes in parenthesis
2006 PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE USA TEAM Name School Yr. Pos. Maggie Arias Marshall Jr. L Kelly-Anne Billingy* Marshall Jr. OH Ivana Bozic UAB So. OH Stephanie Cahill Marshall Jr. OH Justine Farmer Houston So. OH Tessa Kuykendall Rice Sr. MB Natalie Peters SMU So. MB Sara Radosevic* Tulane So. OH Becca Sartori Houston Sr. MB Julia Silva* Tulsa Jr. S Kassiana Urnau Tulsa Jr. OH * - denotes unanimous selection
2006 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR Kelly-Anne Billingy, Jr., OH, Marshall