Volleyball Heads East For Conference USA Showdown At UCF

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Junior libero Jenn Miller and the Green Wave volleyball team will take on Conference USA foe UCF Friday in Orlando.
Junior libero Jenn Miller and the Green Wave volleyball team will take on Conference USA foe UCF Friday in Orlando.

Oct. 29, 2008

Coach Kritza's Comments Following Wednesday's Practice

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NEW ORLEANS - Riding the crest of a seven-match winning streak, the Tulane University volleyball team will look to continue its winning ways on Friday, Oct. 31, when the Green Wave travel to Orlando to take on Conference USA foe UCF at 6 p.m. (CST) at The Venue at UCF.

The Green Wave enter Friday's matchup with the Knights18-5 on the year, 9-1 in C-USA action, and winners of 16 of their last 17 matches. The contest, however, marks the first time Tulane will play in UCF's new arena, which was completed prior to the 2007 season. Since Tulane and UCF are in opposite divisions, the two teams only play each other once a year and last season's match came in the friendly confines of Fogelman Arena.

"Any time you are on the road, there is a certain level of unfamiliarity," Tulane head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "That is why we have practices and pass arounds in those gyms - to get familiar with the new surroundings. Every gym is different when you go on the road and this will be no different than anything else. We will go in and give our players time to get used to the new facility and make sure that they are prepared to put forth their best possible performance that they can."

As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 13.92 kills, 13.06 assists, 14.42 digs and 1.95 blocks per set. Senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic leads the squad with 3.62 kills per set, junior libero Jenn Miller paces the club with 3.82 digs per contest, and senior middle blocker Jen Linder headlines the team with 0.95 blocks per outing.

Tulane is hitting .244 (1197-467-2994) on the season while allowing opponents to attack at a .184 clip (1017-479-2916). Green Wave opponents are averaging 11.83 kills, 11.01 assists, 13.50 digs and 2.43 blocks per set so far in 2008.

"Everybody has the right perspective, from players to coaches," Kritza said. "We realize what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are. We are appreciating our wins, but realize that if we want to keep our winning ways going, we need to make sure that they are not just appreciating the wins but more focused on improving out our weaknesses.

"I think that is the general concept that has permeated from the entire staff on to the players. This is a group that truly enjoys being successful. But success is not only measure in wins and losses. For us, it is measured in being able to play at the highest level of volleyball and perform their best day in and day out."

UCF, meanwhile, comes into the match 13-12 overall, 5-6 in Conference USA play, and looking to snap a six-match losing streak dating back to Oct. 12. The Knights had won nine of 10 contests before going on the skid, including losses at Memphis (3-2) and at UAB (3-0) last weekend.

As a team, the Knights are averaging 12.81 kills, 12.04 assists, 13.92 digs and 1.95 blocks per set. Erin Campbell paces UCF with 3.37 kills per set, Kathleen Curry leads the club with 2.98 digs per set, and Lauren Williams headlines the front-row defense with 0.80 blocks per stanza.

UCF is hitting .202 (1255-572-3375) for the year while allowing opponents to connect at a .216 clip (1226-508-3326). Knight opponents are averaging 12.51 kills, 11.36 assists, 13.31 digs and 2.41 blocks per set.

"It is going to be another tough Conference USA match on the road," Kritza said. "UCF is the most improved team in the conference this year. They have not been as successful as of late, but you can see a lot of good things happening in their program and that is a testament to their new coach, Todd Dagenais. He brought in a few new players and put in a stronger system, so we are expecting a really tough match.

"I have said it before but teams that teams on a losing streak are very dangerous because they have nothing to lose. I fully expect them to put together a good game plan and have a strong performance. In light of our recent performances, we have gone back to the drawing board and we have pushed to improve ever so slightly. I believe that this team will be ready and rise to the challenge on Friday in Orlando."

Friday's match between Tulane and UCF marks the 17th meeting between the two teams, and the Green Wave hold a commanding 13-3 advantage in the all-time series. Under Kritza's direction, Tulane is 2-1 vs. UCF, including victories in the last two meetings. The Wave are 2-1 against UCF in Orlando, including a 3-2 (30-23, 30-25, 27-30, 25-30, 15-12) win on Nov. 5, 2006. Last season, the Green Wave swept the Knights, 30-25, 30-18, 30-19, on Oct. 19, in Fogelman Arena.

Following Friday's contest, the Green Wave will close out its four-match road swing on Tuesday, Nov. 4, at Southern Miss before returning to Fogelman Arena on Friday, Nov. 7 against SMU and will host Tulsa on Nov. 9. From there, Tulane closes out the regular-season with a split weekend against UTEP in El Paso on Nov. 14 and at Fogelman Arena on Nov. 16. For ticket information, contact the Tulane University Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.