Volleyball Looking to Add Conference USA Championship to Cap Outstanding Season

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Senior Cori Martone will look to lead her team to a Conference USA Championship over the weekend
Senior Cori Martone will look to lead her team to a Conference USA Championship over the weekend

Nov. 21, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - Going 26-3 overall and 12-2 in Conference USA play has its advantages, as the Tulane volleyball team will have a first-round bye in the Conference USA Championship in Murfreesboro, Tenn., before playing either UAB or Rice at 7pm CST on Friday.

All matches of the tournament other than the championship match will be broadcast through the C-USA Digital Network at conferenceusa.com. The final game of the championship will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

Current subscribers to the C-USA Digital Network can just click the "watch links" on the Volleyball Championship Central site to view the current match in progress. New and school-only subscribers will need to purchase a monthly pass to view all 10 tournament matches. A monthly subscription is $14.95, and an annual subscription is $119.95.

Tulane earned the second seed in the Championship with their win over Middle Tennessee on Sunday, and Tulsa's loss to UTSA. The Roadrunners of UTSA head into the tournament as the top seed, with Tulsa falling to third on the last day of the regular season.

In addition to UAB - the seventh seed - and Rice - the tenth seed -host-team Middle Tennessee and FIU will play first-round matches on the same side of the bracket as Tulane, as they are the sixth and 11th seeds, respectively. Tulsa, like Tulane, earned a first-round bye on the Green Wave's side of the bracket.

Should Tulane win their opening-match, they will play next on Saturday at 5pm CST. The championship match will be at 1pm CST on Sunday. All of the matches will be played at Alumni Memorial Gym on the campus of Middle Tennessee.

The other side of the bracket features number-one seed UTSA and number-four seed Marshall, who both have first-round byes, along with Southern Miss (eighth seed) playing UTEP (ninth seed) in Thursday's first match, followed by North Texas (fifth seed) versus Florida Atlantic (12th seed) and Middle Tennessee (sixth seed) against FIU (11th seed).

Fortunately for the Green Wave, they have defeated each team on their side of the bracket this season. First and foremost, they will focus on playing either Rice or UAB, as they square off against one another on Thursday evening at 7pm CST for the right to advance and play Tulane on Friday.



Tulane got past UAB in four sets on Nov. 1 in Birmingham, Ala., thanks in part to 18 kills from First-Team All-Conference USA member and the Conference USA Freshman of the Year Tea Juric. The native of Croatia hit .317 during the match, and posted 14 digs for a double-double. Fellow First-Team All-C-USA Team member Cori Martone had an outstanding match against the Blazers, as well, notching a double-double with 17 kills and 11 digs.

Mel Mandelbaum, who was named a First-Team All-C-USA member in addition to winning the league's Setter of the Year award posted 49 assists and 15 digs in the match against UAB.

Junior libero led the match with 17 digs. Fellow junior Anna Wruck was the team leader in blocks with five assists.

The Green Wave found the same success at Rice the following week, as Martone and Juric teamed up for 25 and 24 kills, respectively. Mandelbaum notched 54 assists, and she and Weaver tied for the team lead with 16 digs. Weaver added three service aces, and junior Olivia Utt posted six block assists.

The Green Wave are led by Conference USA Coach of the Year Sinisa Momic. During the regular season, Momic's team posted the league's top hitting percentage (.266) assists per set (13.81) and kills per set (14.83). The Green Wave's kills per set number of 14.83 ranks sixth nationally, while their assists per set are good for seventh in the NCAA.

During league play, Tulane led the conference in kills per set (15.24) and assists per set (14.28).

A few Green Wave players can raise their ranks in the career record books with solid matches over the weekend. Martone is just 32 kills shy of passing Shelly Richey for eighth in school history in kills. Weaver needs just 24 digs to move into tenth place in school history in the stat, while 30 digs would move her to eighth place. With Mandelbaum just a few digs behind Weaver in the all-time dig standings, she can also boost her overall ranking over the weekend.

Martone is also just 66.5 points shy of moving into ninth place in school history.

In terms of top seasons in Tulane history, Mandelbaum needs just nine assists to move to eighth best single-season total, while 15 will give her the seventh best single-season total. A total of 139 - certainly achievable should Tulane play three matches - will put Mandelbaum's season total in the sixth spot in single-season Tulane history.

Weaver already sits at fifth-place in single-season school history in digs with 468, but she can surpass Karlyn Daly's 2003 total with just 27 more digs, and can even move to third with 40 digs. The second best single-season dig total in Tulane history belongs to current Tulane volleyball director of operations Nikki Osuna, and Weaver needs just 44 to get to that total.

The Green Wave are looking for their first Conference USA Championship since 2008, when the team went 28-6 and 15-1 in league play. That year, the Green Wave earned their first of two consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, having not returned since.

Live stats can be followed on Volleyball Championship Central page at conferenceusa.com, and the links will also be posted on TulaneGreenWave.com once they are made available.

Fans can also follow the Tulane volleyball Twitter feed (@GreenWaveVB) for live tweets during the matches, along with special videos and interviews from the Tulane volleyball players and coaching staff throughout the weekend.

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