Volleyball To Host Southern Miss and FIU During Pivotal C-USA Weekend

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Freshmen Sarah Strasner and Tea Juric have played integral roles for the Green Wave volleyball program in 2013
Freshmen Sarah Strasner and Tea Juric have played integral roles for the Green Wave volleyball program in 2013

Oct. 17, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's volleyball program is finally returning to Devlin Fieldhouse after a three-game road swing as they will host Southern Miss and FIU on Friday and Sunday, respectively, during a weekend that will shape the landscape of Conference USA.

Friday's 7pm CT match against Southern Miss will also be the annual Dig Pink match for the Green Wave. Devlin Fieldhouse will be decked out in pink, while fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match to help raise awareness for breast cancer. "Dig Pink" t-shirts will be on sale, and loads of other pink gear will be available.

In addition to the aesthetic changes fans will see to Devlin Fieldhouse on Friday, proceeds from the ticket sales from Friday's match will be donated to the Side-Out Foundation, established in 2004 by volleyball coaches and players to make a significant and identifiable difference in the lives of breast cancer patients.

Sunday's tilt against FIU will begin at 1pm CT. Live stats will be made available for both matches through the GameTracker links on TulaneGreenWave.com, and streaming video will be made available to paying members of the Green Wave All-Access pass through TulaneGreenWave.com.

With the Golden Eagles and FIU sitting at 2-3 and 2-4 in conference play, respectively, both will be looking to gain ground on the top spots in the league standings. One of those spots belongs to the Green Wave, who have gone 4-1 so far in league play this year. In addition to their league record, the Green Wave have the top overall record in C-USA, having gone 18-2 so far, tripling their win total from a season ago.

Tulane is coming off a week in which they played only one match, defeating ECU in four sets in Greenville, N.C., last Sunday. After dropping their opening C-USA match to UTSA on Sept. 27, the Green Wave have run the table in league play, posting victories over UTEP, Marshall, Charlotte and ECU.

The Green Wave, as a team, have continued to lead the league in hitting percentage, as they are managing an attack percentage of .273 through their first 20 matches of the season. The squad also gained some ground in the opponent hitting percentage league rankings, as they moved up to second place after slipping to third last week. Green Wave opponents are hitting a meager .159 against them.



The assists per set and kills per set rankings in the conference are headlined by the Green Wave, as Tulane has managed 13.56 assists per set - half an assist per set higher than second place Tulsa - and 14.66 kills per set - nearly a whole kill per set higher than the second ranked Golden Hurricane.

On the national level, Tulane comes in at eighth in the NCAA in kills per set, while placing 11th in assists per set and ninth in overall winning percentage (.900).

Individually, the Green Wave have a slew of student-athletes in the C-USA top ten rankings, as freshman Sarah Strasner maintained her second-place hitting percentage spot, posting an overall percentage of .390.

Fellow freshman Tea Juric has averaged 3.94 kills per set, good for sixth place in the league, while senior Cori Martone is not far behind, coming in at tenth place with an average of 3.36 kills per set.

One week after overtaking the top overall place in assists per set in the conference, senior setter Mel Mandelbaum slipped back to second place in the rankings, with an average of 11.42 assists per set, just .01 behind the league leader. Nationally, Mandelbaum ranks 19th overall.

Junior libero Grace Weaver has maintained her spots in the service aces per set and digs per set categories, as she is fifth in the league in digs per set with 4.64 while coming in at seventh in service aces per set with 0.29.

Juric has continued to pace the team in kills with 268, while freshman Annie Shurtz (222), Martone (198), Strasner (149) and junior Anna Wruck (122) have all posted triple-digit kill numbers.

Mandelbaum has 788 assists on the season, and is just five assists shy of moving into fourth place all-time in the Tulane record books. The Clovis, Calif., native should do so against Southern Miss on Friday, in front of Golden Eagles assistant coach Rachel Lindelow, who currently sits fourth in the Green Wave record books in career assists.

Weaver is the team leader in service aces (20) and digs (325), but four other Green Wave student-athletes have double-digit service ace numbers and four others have over 100 digs on the season.

Strasner is the team leader in total blocks with 70a, and she also leads the team in solo blocks with 10. Wruck has 52 total blocks (seven solo) to her name, while three others have 25 or more total blocks.

Points-wise, Martone is just 27 points shy of moving into the top ten in school history.

Southern Miss is 11-9 overall this season, and have recorded their two wins in league play over UTEP and Rice. Lindelow joined their staff shortly before the season began as Amanda Berkley was elevated to interim head coach status after three years as an assistant coach.

The Golden Eagles are led individually by Quinci Hayward, who has a team-leading 294 kills. Kristen Fleming owns 785 assists to pace the squad, while Shelby Russell's 18 service aces are a team-high.

Mary Pursell leads the team in digs with 355, while Elise Ames's 58 total blocks (12 solo) pace the Golden Eagles. FIU sits at 8-11 overall, having lost five of their last six contests. On Tuesday, the Panthers fell in five sets to Florida Gulf Coast after being swept in straight sets by Tulsa, UTEP, UTSA and Marshall. Their lone victory in the last six matches came against UAB on Oct. 11, defeating the Blazers in straight sets.

Prior to facing the Green Wave on Sunday, the Panthers will face FAU in Miami, Fla., on Friday.

Ksenia Sukhareva and Kimberly Smith lead the team in kills with 205 and 201, respectively. Lucia Castro comes in third with 169, but has more than 100 than the fourth leading attacker for the Panthers. Sukhareva also leads the team in service aces with 15.

Ashlee Hodgskin leads the squad with 265 assists, while Anabela Sataric has chipped in 221 assists of her own.

Defensively, Jessica Mendoza is the leading digger for the Panthers, as she has notched 205 on the season to date. As the team is the second-best blocking team in C-USA, averaging 2.56 blocks per set, six of their athletes have 25 or more blocks, led by Smith's 74 (15 solo).

Tulane holds a commanding lead in the all-time series against Southern Miss, as the Green Wave have won 45 out of the 55 times the two schools have met. However, despite a 25-9 victory in the second set last season, the Green Wave fell to Southern Miss in five sets on Sept. 21 during the C-USA opener.

Tulane also holds the all-time series lead against FIU, 4-3. The Panthers defeated Tulane in five sets during the last time the two teams met, on Sept. 9, 2011 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Classic. The last time Tulane defeated the Panthers was on August 31, 2002 at the San Diego State Tournament.

Single game tickets will be available for $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children.

For single-game ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE (9283). Group discounts are available when ten or more tickets are purchased.

The Tulane Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center and is open weekdays from 8:30 am to 5 pm For additional information, log onto the official website at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.

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