Volleyball to Begin Four-Game Road Swing at UAB, North Texas

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Senior Mel Mandelbaum is close to moving to third in school history in career assists.
Senior Mel Mandelbaum is close to moving to third in school history in career assists.

Oct. 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's volleyball program will spend the next two weekends on the road wrapping up their regular season, squaring off against Conference USA opponents UAB and North Texas on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

The Green Wave will take on UAB on Friday at 7pm CT at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala., before traveling west to take on the North Texas for a 1pm CT match at The Mean Green Volleyball Center in Denton, Texas.

Live stats will be provided for free through the GameTracker links found on the Tulane volleyball schedule page on TulaneGreenWave.com. Live, streaming video for both matches can be accessed through the All-Access pages at UABsports.com and MeanGreensports.com.

Tulane is in the midst of an eight-match winning streak, their second longest of the season after opening the 2013 campaign 10-0 for the best start in program history. The Green Wave posted back-to-back straight-set wins during their last two matches against FIU and Florida Atlantic. On the season, the Green Wave have recorded 12 straight-set victories, the most since the 2007 and 2008 teams notched back-to-back seasons of 16 straight set victories.

On the season, the Green Wave are 21-2, with a record of 7-1 in C-USA, placing them third in the league standings behind Tulsa (9-0) and UTSA (8-1).

The Green Wave have maintained their top spots in the league standings in hitting percentage, assists per set and kills per set, while coming in just .002 percentage points below the top spot in opponent hitting percentage. Tulane has managed to hold a hitting percentage of .270 throughout the course of the season, coupled with an average of 13.67 assists per set and 14.73 kills per set. They are holding opponents to a meager .155 hitting percentage.

On the national level, Tulane ranks ninth in the NCAA in assists per set, while coming in at sixth in kills per set. Their hitting percentage ranks 17th in the country.

Senior setter Mel Mandelbaum is tops in the conference, as well as 12th in the NCAA, in assists per set with an average of 11.52. She is just 98 assists short of passing Luna Rebrovic for the third most in Tulane history. Mandelbaum is also just 70 assists short of having the tenth best individual season for a setter in school history, as her 979 assists from 2010 currently rank tenth.



One of Mandelbaum's beneficiaries of her passes, senior Cori Martone, is just 11 kills shy of moving to tenth place in school history, passing Shannon Hergert, who posted 1,283 kills from 1994-1997. Martone recently moved into tenth place in points in school history. On the season, Martone has 237 kills, good for third on the team behind freshman Tea Juric's 300 and freshman Annie Shurtz's 259.

Tulane leads the conference in hitting percentage, thanks in part to having two athletes in freshman Sarah Strasner and junior Anna Wruck place in the top five in the individual conference statistical rankings. Strasner is second in the league with a hitting percentage of .387, while Wruck ranks fourth with a hitting percentage of .359. Juric also comes in at 15th with a hitting percentage of .289, once again giving Tulane the distinction of being the only team in the league with three athletes in the top-20.

Juric is sixth overall in kills per set in the league, averaging 3.85, while Martone (3.43) comes in at 10th and Shurtz (3.20) ranks 14th in the league standings.

Junior libero Grace Weaver is one of the top diggers in the league, ranking fifth with 4.56 digs per set. She leads the squad with a total of 365, just 46 short of the tenth-best individual digging season in Tulane history. Weaver has also managed to stay in the top-10 in league rankings in service aces per set with an average of 0.30. Teammate Mandelbaum sits at 18th in that category, averaging 0.24 service aces per set. Weaver leads the team with a total of 24, with Mandelbaum right behind her with 19.

Freshman Sarah Strasner ranks ninth in the league in blocks per set, averaging 1.00. She has a total of 81 with 12 solo, leading the team in both categories.

The Blazers of UAB are 18-9 on the season, while posting a league-record of 5-4. They most recently defeated Alabama State and Alabama A&M in straight sets this past weekend. Prior to that, they posted a four set win at UTEP after being swept by Marshall on Oct. 20. On Oct. 18, the Blazers got past North Texas in three sets.

UAB are one of the better offensive teams in the conference, posting the third best team hitting percentage (.254), the fifth-best kills per set average (13.63) and second-best service aces per set average (1.38).

Defensively, the Blazers have the sixth-best opponent hitting percentage (.196) while also maintaining the second-best blocks per set average (2.49) in the league.

Sam Skinner leads the Blazers in kills with 324, but Sara Rishell is hot on her tail with a total of 300, followed by Kiriana Hirini's 285. Hirini (.350) and Rishell (.344) also rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the league hitting percentage rankings. Skinner is third in the conference in kills per set with an average of 4.21.

While Tulane's Mandelbaum is the top setter in C-USA, the Blazers' Becca Howard is second best in the league in assists per set with 11.45. She leads the league in total assists with 1,008.

Ally Slaughter ranks fourth in the league in service aces per set with 0.32, while also leading her team in total service aces with 30.

UAB is the lone school in the conference to have two athletes in the top-nine blocks per set rankings, as Rishell (1.15) and Hirini (1.13) come in at third and fourth in the league, respectively.

Rachel Fairbanks is the top digger in the conference by digs per set standards, as she has managed to keep an average of 4.99 through this portion of the season. She has a total of 484 digs on the season, also tops in the conference.

North Texas most recently played at Rice, winning in four sets, while also dropping straight-set matches on the road to UTSA and UAB. On the season, the Mean Green are 13-12, while posting a 5-4 record in league play.

Before the Green Wave head to Denton, Texas, the Mean Green will host Louisiana Tech for a match on Nov. 1.

North Texas has posted a team hitting percentage of .226 this season, which is good for sixth in the league. Their mark of 12.63 assists per set is fifth overall in C-USA, while their 13.67 kills per set rank fourth.

The Mean Green are also solid defensively, as the squad ranks fifth in digs per set (15.25) and sixth in blocks per set (2.02) in the league standings.

Individually, Karissa Flack paces the team in hitting percentage, ranking eighth in the league with a percentage of .340 to go along with her 197 kills. However, Carnae Dillard leads the team in kills, recording an exorbitant amount of 365 for an average of 4.24 per set, second in C-USA. Flack is second on the team in kills with 197.

Assists-wise, Amy Henard is fourth in the league with an average of 10.56 assists per set, but is only two shy of Mandelbaum's total of 910.

Courtney Windham owns a total of 71 blocks (14 solo), and ranks eighth in C-USA in blocks per set with 1.04. She is one total block behind Flack for the team lead.

Shelby Tamura is the Mean Green's leading digger with 343, but both Dillard (290) and Henard (202) have over 200 on the season.

Tulane is 17-14 against the Blazers, all-time, including a win against them last year at the Hertz Center, one of only four C-USA wins the Green Wave posted in 2012.

North Texas and Tulane have not faced one another since Sept. 10, 1994, when the Green Wave defeated the Mean Green in five sets at the Subway-Bulldog Classic in Starkville, Miss. The Mean Green, however, hold the all-time series record, three games to two.

After these two contests, Tulane will travel again to C-USA opponents Tulsa (Nov. 8) and Rice (Nov. 10) before returning to Devlin Fieldhouse for the final two regular season games of the season against Louisiana Tech (Nov. 15) and Middle Tennessee (Nov. 17).

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