Preseason All-Conference USA selection Jenn Miller and the Green Wave open the 2009 season on Friday when they take on Louisiana-Lafayette at the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La.
Sept. 3, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - It may be a week later than originally planned, but the Tulane University volleyball team will open the Sinisa Momic era on Friday, Sept. 4, when the Green Wave take on Louisiana-Lafayette in the opening round of the Tiger Classic at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.
The Green Wave were originally slated to open the year last weekend at Creighton's Bluejay Invitational, but had to back out of the tournament as several members of the team suffered from flu-like symptoms. Fully recovered and ready to go, Tulane will battle the Cajuns at 5 p.m. on Friday in its first match under Momic's direction before taking on No. 6 Nebraska and host LSU on Saturday at 12:30 and 8 p.m., respectively.
"Everyone is ready to play," Momic said. "We're going to definitely get something out of this tournament after playing teams like LSU and Nebraska. UL-Lafayette isn't a team we will take lightly either right now. It'll be good to finally start playing and see where we stand.
"For us, the most important thing is to focus on our side of the net and not the other team. UL-Lafayette is not going to be an easy opponent, but we are definitely going for a win there. Nebraska and LSU will be really tough match-ups, but at the same time, those matches will be really good for us."
The Green Wave return seven letterwinners - including three starters - from last year's team which won the 2008 Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
Headlining the list of returnees are seniors Rachel Lindelow, Jenn Miller and Ksenija Vlaskovic. A second-team All C-USA honoree a year ago and the league's Libero of the Year in 2007, Miller already holds the Tulane career digs record with 1,580 and will continue to stabilize the Green Wave's serve-receive and defense.
Sophomore outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic and junior middle blocker Lindsey Shepard represent the other two returning starters on the Green Wave roster and Momic is anticipating solid seasons from both in 2009. Djurdjevic was tabbed the league, state and region Freshman of the Year last year after finishing third on the team in 2008 in kills (305), kills per set (2.42), digs (300), digs per set (2.38) and points (365.5). Shepard, meanwhile, ranked second on the club in blocks (98) and blocks per set (0.90) while sitting sixth in kills (89), kills per set (0.82) and total points (142.5) as a sophomore.
New to the team this year are a trio of true freshmen - setter Elysa Jackson (Sugar Land, Texas), right-side hitter Milica Jovic (Zrenjanin, Serbia) and middle blocker Marija Milosavljevic (Bajina Basta, Serbia) - along with Tennessee transfer Jaye Loyd. Loyd played three seasons with the Lady Vols and will add leadership and experience to the 2009 Green Wave squad.
"I think both Jaye and Elysa got more relaxed in their roles, started showing some progress and really communicating better and connecting with their hitters," Momic said. "It's still not where we hope for them to be later in the season, but it's getting better. Jovic got a little bit stronger. She's getting in better shape and she looked really good in some of the recent practices both hitting and blocking. Marija has been on and off. She still feels fatigued a little bit, but she should be good. We're expecting a lot out of her."
Louisiana-Lafayette enters Friday's contest 3-2 on the young season and looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses to Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin in the Cajuns' last two outings. This weekend's match marks the 56th meeting between Tulane and UL-Lafayette on the volleyball court and the Green Wave hold a commanding 46-9 advantage in the all-time series.
Nebraska comes to Baton Rouge 2-1 on the year and fresh off a straight-sets victory over Creighton on Tuesday night in Lincoln, Neb. Tulane is 0-3 all-time against the Cornhuskers, including a 3-0 loss to the eventual national runners-up last season at the Paso Robles Marriott Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Host LSU, meanwhile, enters the weekend tourney 2-1 on the year after posting wins over Notre Dame and Denver before falling to Stanford last weekend at the Shamrock Invitational in South Bend, Ind. Saturday's tournament finale marks the first of two meetings between the two teams in 2009 as Tulane and LSU will square off again next Friday in day one of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic in Fogelman Arena. LSU leads the all-time series 43-21, but Tulane has won two of the last three meetings, including a five-set victory back in 2007.
Season tickets for the 2009 Tulane volleyball season are currently on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at a cost of $55 for adults and $35 for youths. In addition, all Tulane faculty and staff may purchase tickets for half price.
Tickets may be purchase in person on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center, over the phone at (504) 861-WAVE (9283), or online at www.TulaneGreenWave.com. Single-match tickets will go on sale beginning Aug. 24 at a cost of $6 for adults and $4 for youths. The Tulane Athletics Ticket Office also offers a five-match pack for $20, and each fan can pick any five matches they wish to attend. In addition, single-match tickets can also be purchase on the date of competition at Fogelman Arena.