Aug. 15, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, La. - In final part of a three-day series on the Green Wave volleyball team, TulaneGreenWave.com provides an insight to Tulane's libero/defensive specialists and the 2006 schedule. Links to the previous day's entries are posted at the bottom of the page.
While Tulane returns the bulk of its team from a year ago, one of the key players it will have to replace is 2005 senior Kelli Dickson. Dickson started the previous two years at libero, and become the first player in Green Wave history to post at least 2,000 assists and 1,000 digs in their career.
Dickson's graduation leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, but through the returning players Ashley Bernards and Liz McGehee, along with true freshman Jenn Miller, the Green Wave are not without the talent to do so.
"Everything we do as a team starts with passing and defense," Krtiza said. "They have to stabilize our passing unit and play tenacious defense, and I feel confident in the players we have at that position to do a good job of that once again this year."
Miller is the front-runner for the libero spot after a four-year prep career at San Pedro (Calif.) High where she was twice named to the All-CIF Los Angeles City Section team. As a senior, her first season as a full-time libero, she averaged 11.1 digs per match.
"Jenn is a gifted, young athlete whose prep and club experience has helped her prepare for a seamless transition to the college game," Kritza said. "Even though she is just a freshman, we expect her to be a leader on the court because the position just demands it."
McGehee spent the majority of the 2005 season at Lehigh, where she played in 13 matches, including 11 starts at setter. Her defensive prowess was evident as she posted 92 digs in just 47 games of action. Bernards, meanwhile, played sparingly for the Green Wave last year, tallying 11 digs in 13 games. One of the best athletes on campus, Bernards also ran track during the spring semester.
"Liz is a great team player whose high energy and continual desire to improve has served her well," Kritza said. "Ashley has a very high ceiling because of her agility and quickness, and needs to continue to develop her technique. Both of them have a full season of college experience under their belts, and I think they will both play large roles in the success of our team in 2006."
Eleven home matches, three contests against teams that advanced to the 2005 NCAA Tournament, and the first nationally-televised match in Green Wave history highlight the 2006 schedule.
The Green Wave will host the annual Kathy Trosclair Memorial Tournament, and following a pair of tournaments on the road, return to Fogelman where they will play eight of the 16 regular-season Conference USA contests. Tulane's match at Marshall on Sunday, Sept. 24, will be televised live on College Sports Television, marking the first time the team will play before a national audience.
"I'm very excited about our 2006 schedule," Kritza said. "With a young team like ours, a key to a successful season is playing matches that both build confidence and provide challenges prior to the start of Conference USA play. With teams like Minnesota and Dayton in the preconference portion of our schedule, I feel we have done that."
Tulane opens the season against Lamar on Friday, Aug. 25, and continues Trosclair Tourney action on Saturday, Aug. 26, against in-state foe McNeese State and cross-town rival University of New Orleans. The Green Wave open C-USA play at home also, where they will take on East Carolina on Friday, Sept. 22. Other league teams to visit Fogelman Arena during the regular season are SMU (Oct. 6), Tulsa (Oct. 8), Houston (Oct. 13), Rice (Oct. 15), UAB (Oct. 27), Memphis (Oct. 29) and UTEP (Nov. 12).
The Green Wave play a pair of non-conference tournaments on the road, beginning with the Hawkeye-Holiday Inn Challenge on Sept. 8-9 in Iowa City, Iowa, and the Diet Coke Classic on Sept. 15-16 in Minneapolis, Minn. At the Hawkeye Challenge, Tulane will take on host Iowa before battling UMKC (Missouri-Kansas City) and Florida Atlantic. At the Diet Coke Classic, meanwhile, the Green Wave will open against Dayton before battling Minnesota and UConn.
After opening the C-USA slate at home and battling Marshall in the CSTV contest on the road, Tulane's road schedule also features stops at Houston (Oct. 1), Tulsa (Oct. 20), SMU (Oct. 22), Southern Miss (Nov. 3), UCT (Nov. 5) and UTEP (Nov. 10).
The 2006 C-USA Tournament is slated for Nov. 16-19 at Hofheinz Pavilion on the campus of the University of Houston, and the winner of the event earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"The goal of every team in the country is to use the preconference portion of the schedule to get ready for conference play, perform well during conference to position yourself for the tournament, and play your best volleyball in the postseason," Kritza said. "I feel we have a chance to do just that, and I am looking forward to an exciting season with a young, but talented group."