Aug. 18, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - Around the nation volleyball teams are preparing for the season and many of them are focused on their offense. The life of an attacker in volleyball depends on so many outside influences and the preparation for the Tulane volleyball team is no different, but they may enjoy another part of their job a bit more than just getting kills.
Last season, the Green Wave started slowly on the offensive side of the net, but the attackers picked up the pace late in the season to help the Olive and Blue close the season with six wins in seven tries. Tulane posted a .182 hitting percentage in their first 12 matches and countered that with a .222 attacking percentage during the Conference USA slate.
"We can make the spectacular plays at the net and get the points for our team," said junior Izabela Grot. "When you get (a kill) there is so much excitement on your side of the net, so that is fun. One tough thing is that there is a lot of responsibility on us, but we can handle it."
The attacking players are also your first line of defense and the consensus with the trio of interviewees at today's practice was that a block is more satisfying than a kill. The blocking for the Green Wave also picked up down the stretch in 2010 as Tulane went from averaging just 1.55 blocks per set over their first 40 sets of the season and closed out the campaign by collecting 2.09 a set in 73 sets. That blocking average went up even more over the final ten matches of the season (2.64 bps) to help Tulane post a 7-3 mark in those contests.
"Getting a block (is more fun) than getting a kill," said Sophomore Cori Martone. "A block doesn't happen as often, so it is more exciting. (A block) is a play that can change the momentum of the game."
In 2011, Tulane will return four of their top five attackers, including their top three point producers. Izabela Grot enters her second year in the program and led the team with 363 kills (3.24 kps) last season and ranked 16th in the conference in that category. The Krakow, Poland native accounted for 406.5 total points, with eight service aces and 65 blocks, and ranked 12 among Conference USA players with 3.63 points per set.
Azarri Badawi and Milena Dragovic each return for their sophomore campaigns, with Badawi ranking fifth on the squad last season in kills and Dragovic seeing ample playing time late in the season before suffering an injury on November 12 versus Memphis. Badawi collected 1.44 kills per set, totaling 135 in 94 sets, and Dragovic added 56 kills in 38 sets.
A quartet of freshman will join the corps this season, with Liz Karnes, Olivia Utt and Anna Wruck coming in to help in the middle and on the outside and Grace Weaver providing strength on the outside and on the defensive backline. Utt (Georgia), Weaver (Texas) and Wruck (Oregon) each earned All-State honors during their senior seasons, while Wruck was named the State Tournament MVP for the second straight season as she led Santiam Christian to back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010. Karnes played her club volleyball for the Texas Tornadoes and guided them to a third place finish at the Junior Olympics in 2008.
"The best thing (about being a hitter) is when you can trick the defense into thinking you are getting the set and then get your teammate a one-on-one chance," said freshman Anna Wruck, "and the toughest part is all of the movement we do on each play. We move almost as much as the setter."
Hopefully the Green Wave hitters will have a few tricks up their sleeve early in the season and enjoy the bounty of a block or two when they open the 2011 campaign on August 26 versus North Dakota State in Columbia, Mo.
We will continue to break down each part of the Green Wave roster throughout the next week, including a new "Getting to Know" feature on one of our players each day. To follow all of the releases leading up to the season opener visit the fall camp page by clicking here. Also, follow the Tulane volleyball on twitter @GreenWaveVB for updates and features throughout the season.
Tulane Volleyball season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.tulanegreenwave.com or by calling the Tulane Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.