Volleyball Travels to Youngstown State for YSU Invitational

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Senior Mel Mandelbaum is ninth in C-USA with 8.71 assists per set
Senior Mel Mandelbaum is ninth in C-USA with 8.71 assists per set

Sep 5, 2013

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Looking to keep their early season momentum rolling, Tulane's volleyball program will compete in the Youngstown State Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown, Ohio.

Tulane will square off against Toledo at 12pm CT on Friday, followed by a 6pm CT tilt against the host team before closing out the tournament on Saturday with a match against Saint Francis (Pa.) at 10am CT.

Links to live stats for all three matches can be found on the volleyball schedule on TulaneGreenWave.com. Streaming video can also be purchased through YSU for the match against YSU on Friday evening. Fans should go to YSUsports.com for more information.

The Green Wave are off to one of the best starts in recent memory, as they have posted a perfect 4-0 record on the season to date. They are the only team in Conference USA that is undefeated. They last time the Green Wave started the season 4-0 was in 2007.

Last weekend, they swept the competition at their own tournament, the Kathy Trosclair Memorial Tournament, where they defeated Mississippi Valley State, Rider and Nicholls State. The Green Wave defeated MVSU and Rider in three sets, while Nicholls State took Tulane to five sets before Tulane prevailed.

This past Tuesday, the squad travelled to Hammond, La., where they outdueled Southeastern Louisiana in four sets.

Freshman Annie Shurtz continues to lead the team in kills, as she has posted a total of 55 over 15 sets for a team-leading average of 3.67 per set. Both numbers are good enough for fourth place overall in the Conference USA standings. Senior Cori Martone is not far behind, as her 43 kills in 15 sets place her at 2.87 per set, putting her at 18th place in league standings. Freshman Tea Juric (37 kills, 2.85 avg./s) is 19th in the league in kills per set.



Senior Mel Mandelbaum has picked up right where she left off last season, dishing out assists left and right. So far this year, the Clovis, Calif., native has managed 121 assists to lead her team. Her clip of 8.71 assists per set ranks her ninth overall in C-USA. On top of her assist numbers, Mandelbaum is tied with junior Grace Weaver for the team lead in service aces with five.

Weaver ranks fourth in the league in digs per set with 4.60, as she has racked up a total of 69 digs during the first four matches of the year. Juric (38) and Shurtz (32) are second and third on the team in digs, respectively.

Defensively, freshman Sarah Strasner has been a blocking machine, as she has recorded 15 total blocks (two solo) to lead the Green Wave. Junior Anna Wruck is right behind her in the team standings, as she has managed 12 blocks (two solo), while Martone has added 11 (one solo).

Tulane's first foe of the weekend, Toledo, is 2-2 this season, posting wins over Loyola (IL) and Eastern Illinois while dropping matches to Marist and West Virginia. Statistically, the Rockets are led by Lauren Rafdal, who has 67 kills in 17 total sets for an average of 3.94 kills per set. Adria Pryor leads the team in assists with 189, while Jordan Kielty's five service aces pace the squad.

Toledo's Ellen Hays leads the team in digs with 69, but four other players have 25 or more. Dakota Harkins has notched 16 blocks (three solo) thus far.

Youngstown State has only played in three matches during the 2013 season, notching wins over Coastal Carolina and Wofford while dropping one to Iowa, all at the Chanticleer Invitational last weekend.

Alexis Elger holds the team lead in kills for the Penguins with 41. Casey D'Ambrose's 129 assists equal 84% of the team's total of 153. Missy Hundelt, Erika West and Chelsea Guerrieri have all been solid serving, posting six, five and four service aces, respectively.

Hundelt also leads the Penguins in digs with 56. West also has 48 digs for the second most on the team. Three Penguins have double-digit blocks, with Jenna Cavanaugh leading the way with 15 total (four solo).

Saint Francis (Pa.) has gotten off to a rocky start to the season, dropping four straight at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., last week. They dropped matches to Michigan State, Pacific, Virginia Tech and Towson, all in three sets.

Individually, the Red Flash are led by Hannah Kutny's 25 kills. Kayla Jeckell - who has 16 kills - is the only other athlete with double-digit kills. Alanna Blenkarn has recorded 59 assists to lead the team, while Maria Cup and Breanna Kochinsky pace the squad with two service aces a piece.

Kochinsky also leads the team in digs with 31, while Sophie Murdock's eight blocks (one solo) are out in front of anyone else on the Red Flash.

Following the YSU Invitational, Tulane will return to Louisiana to face New Orleans on the road in a 7pm CT cross-town battle next Tuesday.

Fans can follow the Green Wave volleyball program on Twitter (GreenWaveVB) or on Facebook at facebook.com/GreenWaveVolleyball.