Sept. 30, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - Riding the crest of a three-match winning streak, the Tulane University volleyball team will hit the road for a three-match road swing in the Lone Star State beginning on Thursday, Oct. 1, with a 7 p.m. showdown with Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Following the match against the Lady Jacks, the Green Wave will return to Conference USA play on Friday when they travel to the UH Athletics/Alumni Center for a 7 p.m. matchup with the University of Houston before closing out the weekend on Sunday against league foe Rice at the Tudor Fieldhouse with first serve slated for 1 p.m.
"We will be facing three quality opponents this weekend," first-year Tulane head volleyball coach Sinisa Momic said. "Stephen F. Austin is a very good team. They're scrappy and a good defensive team with a fast offense. We're at Houston on Friday. They're always good and always solid. And then on Sunday, we play Rice which is probably the toughest conference opponent that we'll face this year.
"This is a very good weekend for us, a very tough one, but it will get us ready for the conference tournament where you have to play tough matches back to back. We have to take each match separately and get ready for it the best that we can."
The Green Wave enter Thursday's match 7-4 on the year and 3-0 in Conference USA after defeating league foes Tulsa and SMU 3-0 and 3-2, respectively last weekend in Fogelman Arena.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 13.33 kills, 12.42 assists, 15.81 digs and 1.88 blocks per set. Sophomore outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic - the reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week and CVU.com National Player of the Week - leads the squad with 4.40 kills per set, while senior setter Rachel Lindelow - who claimed her second C-USA Setter of the Week honor on Monday - has a team-best 10.60 assist-per-set average. Senior libero Jenn Miller paces the club with 4.19 digs per contest and junior middle blocker Lindsey Shepard headlines the team with 0.98 blocks per outing.
"So far, we've been very on and off," Momic said. "One match, our offense will work but our defense was average. Another match, our serving will work but our passing wouldn't work. We have to put it all together. We definitely have good skills, but we have to perform each of those skills at once. That's why we're inconsistent.
"I think we're maybe 70-80 percent of where we could be. This will be a good weekend to give us a chance to put it all together, raise out level of performance and find out how far we can go later in October and November."
Stephen F. Austin, meanwhile, enters the contest 12-7 on the year, 1-1 in Southland Conference play and looking to bounce back from a 3-2 loss to Central Arkansas on Monday night in Nacogdoches, Texas.
As a team, the Lady Jacks are averaging 13.13 kills, 12.01 assists, 15.43 digs and 2.28 blocks per set. Kelsey Owns paces Stephen F. Austin with 2.83 kills per set while Paloma Buckner averages 7.81 assists per stanza. Madison Hanlan leads the team with 4.06 digs per set and Ashley Bailey headlines the front-row defense with 1.14 blocks per set.
Stephen F. Austin is hitting .194 (906-420-2510) for the year while holding its opponents to a .160 clip (779-393-2419). Lady Jack opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 11.29 kills, 10.65 assists, 15.17 digs and 1.96 blocks per set.
"They're a very good team and will test us defensively," Momic said. "We will have to play defense the same way we did against SMU. This is one of the teams that we have to dig with them back-to-back and make sure our offense is working. They're not as big as us, but they're very quick and very aggressive on defense, so at this point, this is a very good match for us to test our defense."
Thursday's match marks the ninth meeting between Tulane and Stephen F. Austin, and the all-time series is tied at 4-4. The Green Wave won the last meeting between the two teams30-16, 30-26, 30-25 on Oct. 17, 2007, in Fogelman Arena, but the Lady Jacks won the previous four matchups from 1991-98. Stephen F. Austin has played three C-USA schools so far in 2009, defeating Memphis and Houston, 3-0, and falling to Tulsa, 3-2.
Following Tulane's trip through Texas, the Green Wave's next home match is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7, against Southern Miss. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.