Oct. 13, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University volleyball team returns to action on Tuesday, Oct. 14, when the Green Wave take on cross-town foe University of New Orleans in their annual "Dig For The Cure" match at 7 p.m. at Fogelman Arena.
But instead of focusing solely on volleyball, the team is joining with college volleyball teams around the country to help fight breast cancer and assist the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. The nationwide initiative features a pledge for each dig recorded by the Green Wave in Tuesday's match against the Privateers. Fans and businesses can pledge funds to Komen Foundation for each dig the Green Wave record against UNO and can also show their support by joining the Tulane program in wearing pink shirts and ribbons for the match.
"College athletics often times is focused on just wins and losses, but it is so much more than that," Tulane head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "It is an opportunity to work with young people and teach them some much more meaningful lessons. Having our team involved in events like `Dig For The Cure' is one of those opportunities.
"Everyone has been affected by cancer in some form during their lives. You either know someone who is battling it, or has battled it, or unfortunately may have lost that battle. I think this is our small way of contributing to fighting cancer. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there is a big movement in college volleyball to make an impact. We are going to do our part tomorrow. If you can perform your craft or play your sport and help other people at the same time, then you could not ask for a better situation than that."
The Green Wave enter Tuesday's midweek matchup with UNO 13-5 on the year, 5-1 in C-USA action, and winners of 11 of their last 12 matches. After dropping its first C-USA match of the year on Sunday, Oct. 5, at UAB, the Tulane team bounced back last week to defeat Tulsa, 3-1, on Friday in Oklahoma and SMU in a straight-sets match on Sunday in Dallas.
Tulane is hitting .228 (931-390-2370) on the season while allowing opponents to attack at a .181 clip (791-374-2302). Green Wave opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 11.81 kills, 11.06 assists, 13.72 digs and 2.70 blocks per set so far in 2008.
"Any time you can sweep on the road, that is a good sign that your team is in the right place and they understand what their responsibilities are," Kritza said. "Coming off that tough UAB match (on Oct. 5), I am pleased with the way they bounced back and refocused and I am pleased with their performance on the road this weekend. Obviously, we are looking to improve on that. That is what this season is about. It is about continual improvement and it is about being able to get better in any aspect - one of the three contacts of the ball - and we are going to push to do that.
"We are looking to carry over the momentum we have from the weekend. I think some individuals really stepped up big and, as a group, we made some good progress this weekend. We are going to look to continue that against all three opponents this week. We know we are going to be challenged both physically and strategically, but I am confident that as long as we stay focused on continual improvement, we will fare well."
UNO, meanwhile, comes into the match 11-5 on the season, 4-2 in Sun Belt Conference play, and winners of its last three matches. The Privateers enjoyed a 2-0 weekend by sweeping South Alabama and Troy on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
As a team, the Privateers are averaging 14.46 kills, 13.05 assists, 13.60 digs and 1.47 blocks per set. Dobrilla Kovacevic paces UNO with 4.11 kills per set, Nicky Valenti leads the club with 4.51 digs per set, and Heather Ford headlines the front-row defense with 0.68 blocks per stanza.
New Orleans is hitting .268 (824-298-1965) for the year while limiting opponents to a .208 clip (628-257-1784). Privateer opponents are averaging 11.02 kills, 10.00 assists, 12.35 digs and 2.15 blocks per set.
"Playing UNO is always a fun match," Kritza said. "It is a healthy rivalry that we have. They are doing well for the year, and they have a good record. We are expecting a good match tomorrow night, and they are steadily improving. They are 11-5 overall and doing well in their conference. We are fully expecting them to come out and play us very tough tomorrow on our home floor."
Tuesday's match between Tulane and UNO marks the 85th meeting between the two teams, and the Green Wave hold a 61-23 advantage in the all-time series. Under Kritza's direction, Tulane is 2-0 against New Orleans, including a 3-1 win last Aug. 28 at the UNO Human Performance Center. Tulane has now won the last eight meetings, and the last time the Privateers emerged victorious was back on Aug. 31, 2001, when they claimed a 3-2 decision in Fogelman Arena.
Following Tulane's midweek contest against UNO, the Green Wave continue a three-match homestand over the weekend. Tulane will take on C-USA foe East Carolina at 7 p.m. on Friday before taking on league foe Marshall on Sunday with first serve slated for 1 p.m. From there, the Green Wave will kick off another four-match road swing beginning on Oct. 24.
Fans not able to be in attendance for any of the three home matches this week can follow the action on-line at www.TulaneGreenwave.com. Live streaming video is available to paid members of the All-Access Pass, and live stats are available for free via GameTracker. For ticket information to those matches, as well as future Green Wave athletic events, contact the Tulane University Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.