Sept. 24, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - Through the first three weeks of the 2009 season, the Tulane University volleyball team has learned its fair share of ups and downs.
In nine matches, the Green Wave has experienced the high of defeating in-state rival LSU on Sept. 11 and rallied from a 2-1 deficit to down New Mexico in five last weekend in Tucson, Ariz. The Tulane team has also gone through the lows of dropping straight-set matches to a pair of nationally-ranked programs, losing a 2-0 lead in a five-set decision to Long Beach State on Sept. 12 and seeing a team it had down 2-1 rally late before holding on for a five-set win at UTEP on Sept. 17.
On Friday, the Green Wave will look to put their combined experience to a good use when the team plays host to Conference USA foe Tulsa at 7 p.m. at Fogelman Arena. The match is one of two league contest Tulane will host over the weekend as the Green Wave will play SMU on Sunday at 1 p.m.
"It's our first conference matches at home, so obviously everyone is excited," first-year Tulane head volleyball coach Sinisa Momic said. "We've beaten some good teams like LSU and New Mexico, but still not consistent. That is something we'll work on. We definitely can't take anyone lightly, especially not Tulsa or SMU. We know that we can beat probably any team in the conference, but if we're inconsistent, we can get in trouble. Our goal is to open up our home conference matches the right way."
The Green Wave enter the weekend 5-4 on the year and 1-0 in Conference USA after a 2-1 performance last week on the road. Tulane opened the C-USA portion of its schedule with a 3-2 win at UTEP on Thursday, dropped a 3-0 decision to then-No. 21 Arizona on Saturday and rallied back for a five-set win over New Mexico on Sunday.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 12.74 kills, 11.97 assists, 14.57 digs and 1.89 blocks per set. Sophomore outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic leads the squad with 4.00 kills per set, while senior setter Rachel Lindelow has a team-best 10.03 assist-per-set average. Senior libero Jenn Miller paces the club with 4.00 digs per contest and junior middle blocker Lindsey Shepard headlines the team with 1.00 blocks per outing.
"We definitely have to play more consistently," Momic said. "We can't play as up and down as we have so far. That's the first key. We have to control our passing and our setting. If that happens, our offense will work fine against anybody. We just have to be consistent and play at a high level at all times, not go from a high level to not playing so well and losing points in a row. That is the biggest issue we have right now."
Tulsa comes to New Orleans 10-3 on the year and will play its first C-USA match of the year on Friday in Fogelman Arena. Last weekend, the Golden Hurricane went 2-1 at the Texas-Arlington Hilton Invitational with a 3-1 loss to TCU on Friday and back-to-back 3-0 wins over Arkansas State ad Texas Southern on Saturday.
As a team, the Hurricane are averaging 13.94 kills, 13.04 assists, 14.79 digs and 1.93 blocks per set. Jennifer Eichler paces Tulsa with 4.11 kills per set while Jordan Clampitt and Rachel Vukson average 6.04 and 5.81 assists per stanza. Jessica Adams leads the team with 4.91 digs per set and Jullia Kenealy headlines the front-row defense with 1.02 blocks per set.
Tulsa is hitting .279 (655-219-1560) for the year while holding its opponents to a .153 clip (535-286-1626). Golden Hurricane opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 11.38 kills, 10.60 assists, 12.34 digs and 1.80 blocks per set.
"It looks like our conference is getting stronger and we're not in a position to think about having an easy match against anybody," Momic said. "We're going to take everybody seriously and just prepare the best that we can. The biggest thing for us is playing our game and not worrying about who we play. I think if we can control our side of the court, we'll be fine against anybody."
Friday's match marks the 13th meeting between Tulane and Tulsa, and the Green Wave hold a 9-3 lead in the all-time series. Tulane had never lost to the Golden Hurricane prior to their first season in C-USA, but the Green Wave dropped a pair of regular-season matches to Tulsa in 2005. The Green Wave exacted a bit of revenge in that year's C-USA Tournament with a 3-2 win in the quarterfinals and have now won five of the last six regular-season meetings. Tulane is 2-0 against Tulsa in C-USA matches in Fogelman Arena.
Following Friday's C-USA match against Tulsa, the Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Sept. 27, when they play host to league foe SMU at 1 p.m. at Fogelman Arena. From there, Tulane will hit the road for three straight road matches in Texas as the Wave will battle Stephen F. Austin on Thursday, Houston on Friday and Rice on Sunday. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.