Aug. 21, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - The 2008 Tulane University volleyball team added to its already lengthy list of first on Thursday as the Green Wave received 38 votes in the Preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25.
The 38 votes place the Green Wave 38th among NCAA Division I programs, and is the only C-USA team to receive preseason votes in 2008. The preseason votes in 2008 marks the first time in Tulane volleyball history that the Green Wave received votes in the national poll prior to the start of the season. Other firsts for the team came on Aug. 4 when Conference USA tabbed the Green Wave the preseason favorite to win the league's regular-season title and senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic garnered Preseason C-USA Player of the Year honors.
"I think it is a good place for us to be because I think it is a very attainable goal for us," fourth-year Tulane head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "I think we are going to surpass it, though, with the way these kids are working. The schedule that we have over the next three weeks is going to be a test. Are we 38th are we much higher than that? I believe in aiming high, much higher than 38th. But we haven't proven anything yet.
"We have to prove it to the entire volleyball world. That's what the season is about. That's what the pre-conference portion of our season is for. Before we go into conference play, we have to prove to ourselves and to everybody else that we belong in the Top 25 and then stay there."
The preseason distinction comes following a 2007 season that saw Tulane go 28-6 and finish second in the regular-season C-USA standings with a 14-2 league record. In addition, the Wave return all 13 letterwinners from a year ago
While Kritza and her team are excited about receiving the preseason votes, they realize the opportunity to rise in the standings is within their grasps based on the early portion of their 2008 schedule.
"To be a top team, you have to play top teams," Kritza said. "That's what the entire pre-conference schedule is about. It gives us an opportunity to knock off teams that are ranked ahead of us. When we made the schedule, we knew that a number of them would be ranked in the preseason Top 25. That's exactly why we wanted to play them - not just for the RPI points, but because that is the level this team has to play consistently when we go into conference play.
"If we want to hit our marks of winning the conference championship, winning the conference tournament, making history and being the first Tulane team to make the NCAAs, we have to play at that level more than just one or two matches a season. We have to play at that level match after match and weekend after weekend."
It was not all good news for the Green Wave on Thursday, however, as Kritza announced that the team would be without the playing services of senior middle blocker Lauren Boatwright due to injury. A three-year starter who has posted 279 kills and 243 digs during her career, Boatwright will miss her senior season due to bone marrow edema. She will, however, remain a part of the team as a student assistant.
"It's been a tough road for Lauren, but we have kind of seen it coming," Kritza said. "She has been trying to come back through her best efforts and our medical staff's best efforts to get her back on the court. But it really is in her best interest and this team's best interest that she assumes a different role.
"It is a really important role for us. Her character, her leadership and her volleyball know-how comes into play not so much on the court blocking and hitting for us, but coaching. Seeing things as an older, experienced player in a leadership role is something that she can share with the team. She will be another set of eyes and she has a good head on her shoulders to help this group face its most challenging season ever."
The Tulane team will practice again on Friday with a double session starting at 10:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Reily Student Recreation Center. The team will practice again at Reily on Saturday morning before holding a scrimmage at approximately 5 p.m. at Fogelman Arena. The scrimmage is open to the public and admission is free.
The Green Wave open the season on Aug. 29 against Missouri, and will play their first home match on Monday, Sept. 1, against Florida A&M. For season tickets information or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.