Dec. 3, 2008
The Green Wave enter the 2008 NCAA Tournament 27-5 on the year, Conference USA regular-season champions withs a 15-1 league record, and earned an automatic bid to the postseason after winning the C-USA Tournament with a 3-2 decision over UAB on Nov. 23 in Memphis, Tenn., at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
Tulane has won 25 of its last 26 matches, including a school-record 16 straight victories, and enters the postseason as the No. 16 national seed - becoming the first C-USA team to earn one of the Top 16 spots in the tournament.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 14.01 kills, 13.10 assists, 14.60 digs and 2.11 blocks per set. Senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic leads the squad with 3.56 kills per set, junior libero Jenn Miller paces the club with 3.88 digs per contest, and senior middle blocker Jen Linder headlines the team with 1.03 blocks per outing.
Tulane is hitting .256 (1639-601-4062) on the season while allowing opponents to attack at a .172 clip (1354-669-3983). Green Wave opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 11.57 kills, 10.81 assists, 13.62 digs and 2.28 blocks per set in 2008.
Tulane In Postseason Play
Tulane's trip to Dayton, Ohio, for the NCAA 1st & 2nd Rounds marks the Green Wave's first-ever NCAA postseason appearance.
It is not, however, Tulane's first postseason appearance as the Green Wave participated in the AIAW Tournamnets from 1975-80. Tulane won the Louisiana AIAW Championships from 1975-77 and 1980, and advanced to the AIAW Regional Round in each of those seasons. Overall, Tulane posted a combined 29-15 record in AIAW postseason play, including a 24-1 mark in state tournament action.
The Green Wave are one of four teams making their inaugural appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2008, joining the Furman Paladins, the North Dakota State Bison and the Portland State Vikings.
The Dayton bracket is matched up with the University Park, Penn., bracket - which features No. 1 national seed Penn State, Long Island, Yale and Ohio - on Dec. 12 on the campus of Penn State University. The winner of that match will advance to the final eight and the winner there moves on to the NCAA Volleyball Championships in Omaha, Neb., from Dec. 18-20.
Friday's Opponent - Tennessee Tech
The Golden Eagles enter the NCAA postseason 19-12 on the year, co-champions on the Ohio Valley Conference with a 14-4 league record, and earned an automatic bid to the NCAAs after winning the OVC Tournament with a five-set victory over Murray State on Nov. 22 in Cookeville, Tenn.
Tennessee Tech went 5-3 during the month of November and will look to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Louisville in their last outing on Nov. 29 in Kentucky.
As a team, the Golden Eagles are averaging 13.39 kills, 12.37 assists, 15.27 digs and 1.92 blocks per set. Leah Meffert leads the squad with 3.17 kills per set, Katie Kenline paces the club with 4.90 digs per contest, and Jessica Asplund headlines the team with 0.80 blocks per outing.
Tennessee Tech is hitting .214 (1513-637-4103) on the season while allowing opponents to attack at a .202 clip (1390-597-3930). Golden Eagle opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 12.30 kills, 11.06 assists, 14.57 digs and 2.21 blocks per set in 2008.
Friday's NCAA Tournament match between Tulane and Tennessee Tech marks the third meeting between the two teams, and the Green Wave hold a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series. The two teams, however, have not played since Oct. 20, 1978, when the Green Wave defeated Tennessee Tech 15-1, 15-1 in the Memphis Tournament in Tennessee. The only other meeting between the clubs came on Oct. 23, 1976, when Tulane downed the Golden Eagles, 14-16, 15-1, 15-7, in Memphis, Tenn.
Possible Saturday Opponent - Dayton
The Dayton Flyers enter the 2008 NCAA Tournament 21-12 on the year, finished second in the Atlantic 10 Conference with an 11-2 league record, and advanced to the A-10 Tournament championship match before falling in three to regular-season champion Saint Louis.
Dayton dropped four of their last six matches - including back-to-back losses to Saint Louis and Ohio in their last two outings - but put together an impressive enough resume to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA postseason.
As a team, the Flyers are averaging 13.74 kills, 12.62 assists, 15.51 digs and 1.99 blocks per set. Lindsay Fletemier leads the squad with 3.23 kills and 1.03 blocks per set, and Nicole Bateman paces the club with 3.48 digs per contest.
Dayton is hitting .223 (1704-697-4520) on the season while allowing opponents to attack at a .178 clip (1457-673-4410). Flyer opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 11.75 kills, 10.91 assists, 14.24 digs and 2.10 blocks per set in 2008.
Tulane and Dayton have met just once in the 33-year history of the Green Wave program, and that came on Sept. 15, 2006, when the Flyers defeated Tulane 3-1 (30-16, 30-21, 28-30, 30-22) in the opening round of the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.
Possible Saturday Opponent - Western Michigan
Western Michigan enters the NCAA postseason 26-6 on the year, regular-season champions in the Mid-American Conference with a 14-2 league record, and runners-up in the MAC Tournament after falling to Ohio in four sets on Nov. 23.
Western Michigan went 7-3 during the month of November, including a split with Marquette (W 3-0) and Valparaiso (L 3-0) last weekend, to earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
As a team, the Broncos are averaging 14.32 kills, 13.24 assists, 17.17 digs and 2.02 blocks per set. Michelle Moore leads the squad with 4.02 kills per set, Caitlin Strimel paces the club with 5.25 digs per contest, and Jaime Gotham headlines the team with 1.05 blocks per outing.
Western Michigan is hitting .251 (1676-553-4474) on the season while allowing opponents to attack at a .166 clip (1430-691-4457). Bronco opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 12.22 kills, 11.59 assists, 16.85 digs and 1.65 blocks per set in 2008.
Tulane and Western Michigan have never played in the 33-year history of the Green Wave volleyball program.
C-USA Well Represented
The Green Wave are one of three Conference USA programs to earn an NCAA postseason bid as UAB will travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on Missouri State and Rice will head to Austin, Texas, for a showdown with Wichita State.
The three bids for C-USA marks the first time the league had multiple teams advance to the NCAA Tournament since 2003 when Cincinnati and Louisville - now members of the Big East - earned bids. It also marks the most league teams to earn postseason bids since 2002 when Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and South Florida all went to the NCAAs.
Tulane is also one of two teams from the state of Louisiana to earn a bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, joining LSU which will travel to Los Angeles to take on No. 14 national seed UCLA on Dec. 5.
How We Got Here
The Tulane University volleyball team added to its lengthy list of accomplishments over the weekend by winning the 2008 Conference USA Championship tournament at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse in Memphis, Tenn.
After never winning a conference title in the previous 32 seasons of Green Wave volleyball, the 2008 squad made it a clean sweep of the C-USA regular season and tournament titles - becoming the first league program to do so since 2005.
After receiving a first-round bye, the Green Wave opened the tournament with a straight-sets sweep of UCF in the quarterfinals and had to rally from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Houston in five in the semis. Tulane took a 2-1 advantage in the championship match against UAB only to see the Blazers answer with a fourth-set victory to send the contest to a fifth and deciding stanza. In set five, however, the Green Wave rolled out to an 8-4 lead and outscored their opponent 7-3 the rest of the way to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Touranment.
For the weekend, Tulane averaging 12.77 kills, 11.92 assists, 14.38 digs and 1.88 blocks per set. The Green Wave offense connected at a .224 clip courtesy of 166 kills and 63 errors in 460 swings while limitting their three foes to a combined .165 mark (147-74-442).
C-USA Tournament Honors
Senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic was named C-USA Tournament MVP after averaging 3.15 kills and 2.62 digs per set while tallying four block assists and a team-best eight service aces. Freshman outside Visnja Djurdjevic, meanwhile, claimed C-USA All-Tournament honors after posting 2.69 kills, 2.23 digs and 0.46 blocks per set.
While Radosevic and Djurdjevic were the only two players to make the all-tournament team, senior middle blocker Jen Linder and junior libero Jenn Miller led the team with 1.08 blocks and 3.85 digs per stanza, respectively.
By winning the 2008 Conference USA Tournament title, the Green Wave earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to mark the first time in the 33-year history of the program that Tulane will advance to volleyball's version of "The Big Dance."
Winning the C-USA regular-season and tournament titles were both goals of the team at the season's onset. One of the main motivating factors for Tulane was not being forced to relive what happened last year when the Wave finished 28-6 overall, second in the C-USA standings with a 14-2 league record and sat 30th in the final AVCA national poll. When the NCAA Selection Committee announced the 2007 field of 64, however, the Green Wave were not in that number despite putting together an impressive resume for a postseason bid.
How Sweet It Is
Tulane's 3-2 win over UAB in the 2008 Conference USA Championship was even sweeter for the Green Wave as Tulane was able to exact a bit of revenge on the Blazers.
In each of the past two seasons, UAB eliminated the Green Wave from postseason play with 3-1 wins in the 2006 quarterfinals and 2007 semifinals. In addition, the Blazers handed Tulane its only C-USA regular-season loss when UAB took a 3-2 decision back on Oct. 5 in Bartow Arena.
Both Tulane/UAB matches went the distance, but in the C-USA Championship, the Green Wave took command early in the final set and never looked back. Ironically enough, Tulane's 15-6 win in the fifth set on Sunday is the exact same score the Green Wave lost to the Blazers during the regular season.
November To Remember
The month of November was a favorable one for the Green Wave in 2008. Not only did the Tulane team post a perfrect 8-0 showing during the month, but the program posted its first-ever conference title and went on to claim its first conference tournament title as well to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAAs - which is also a first for the Green Wave program.
By taking the Conference USA regular-season and tournament championships, Tulane will look to represent the league well this weekend and beyond in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2008 squad's accomplishment marks the first time a Tulane volleyball team went an entire month without a loss - excluding months that the team does not play a full allotment of matches.
Tulane In The Buckeye State
While this weekend's NCAA Tournament matches will be the Green Wave's first-ever trip to Dayton, Ohio, Tulane is not without experience or success in the Buckeye State in 2008.
Back on Sept. 19-21, the Green Wave played a two-host tournament at Ohio in Athens before moving on Cincinnati and the campus of Xavier.
In Athens, Tulane pulled out a 3-2 win over the Ohio Bobcats (21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 24-26,15-9) on Sept. 19 in the Convocation Center. A day later, Tulane swept host Xavier 25-22, 27-25, 25-18 at the Cintas Center and stayed there to down then-No. 14 Middle Tennessee State 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 16-14.
In addition, Tulane played several matches against the University of Cincinnati when the two teams were members of Conference USA from 1995-2004.
Tulane Becames Title Town
With a 3-0 win at UTEP on Nov. 16, the Tulane Green Wave clinched the 2008 Conference USA regular-season championship, the first-ever league title in the 33-year history of the volleyball program.
The Green Wave entered its Nov. 7 match against SMU knowing it controlled its own championship destiny and could finish no worse than a share of the league title if the Wave could win out. Shortly after posting a 3-0 win over the Mustangs, the Tulane team learned UAB dropped a five-set match at Rice which opened the door for Tulane to earn the title outright. Tulane kept its end of the bargainw ith a 3-0 victory over Tulsa on Nov. 9, and learned that it clinched at least a share of the conferenec crown when word spread that Houston defeated the Blazers at the UH Athletics Alumni Center.
From there, Tulane went to UTEP to clinch the title for its own, and just for good measure, closed out the regular season with another 3-0 win over the Miners. At 15-1, Tulane tied the C-USA record for league wins in a season, joining the South Florida in 1997 and 2000, and Marshall in both 2005 and 2007.
Tulane Claims C-USA Player, Freshman, Coach Of Year Honors
The Tulane University volleyball team swept Conference USA Player, Freshman and Coach of the Year honors, and the Green Wave placed five players on the All C-USA team for the second consecutive year, the league announced Nov. 19 on the eve of the 2008 Conference USA Tournament.
Senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic claimed C-USA Player of the Year honors, becoming the first player in Tulane history to earn such a distinction. Rookie Visnja Djurdjevic was tabbed Freshman of the Year to become the third Green Wave student-athlete to claim the title since 2005, and fourth-year head coach Liz Kritza was named Co-Coach of the Year for the second straight year.
Radosevic and senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells were named to the All C-USA first team while Djurdjevic, senior middle blocker Jen Linder and junior libero Jenn Miller claimed second-team All C-USA recognition. Djurdjevic was also named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team as well, becoming the ninth individual in program history to claim the honor.
Going Out In Style
Perhaps it was fate that all six of the Green Wave's healthy seniors were on the court when the final point of the regular season was scored. Maybe it was their destiny to share the floor in the closing moments of the regular-season finale. Or it could have been sheer luck in the rotations that allowed the Class of 2008 to be on the hardwood when the final cheers erupted from the home crowd.
But whatever the reason, it was an emotional moment as Ashley Bernards, Liz McGehee, Jen Linder, Sara Radosevic, Luna Rebrovic and Bridget Wells - along with student assistant Lauren Boatwright, who has not played this season due to a career-ending ankle injury - celebrated with a collective bear hug at center court as the Tulane University volleyball team closed out its 2008 Conference USA Championship season with a 3-0 victory over league foe UTEP on Nov. 16 at Fogelman Arena.
The match allowed the Class of 2008 close out the year with another home win - their 24th in a row - and give thier home fans one more chance to celebrate. The team, however, may have a chance to play more matches at Fogelman if the NCAA Selection Committee should choose the Green Wave to host first- and second-round matches in a couple of weeks.
What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been
The past four years have been sort of like a roller coaster ride for the Green Wave - except the Tulane team is still on the incline and striving to reach the apex.
In 2005, seven freshmen joined a solid corps of veterans for head coach Liz Kritza's first season. The rookie class, however, had a rough year as Hurricane Katrina disrupted their season and forced the team to relocate to College Station, Texas.
Despite posting just three wins during the regular season, the team's mettle was unleashed in that year's C-USA Tournament when the Wave posted a pair of wins to advance to the semifinals for the first time in nearly a decade. As sophomores, they enjoyed a 10-win improvement in 2006 to finish the year 15-11, and were even better as juniors when the Green Wave finished 28-6.
As seniors, however, they entered the year with their eye on claiming the first conference championship in Tulane volleyball history, and are now conference champs thanks to a 15-1 C-USA record.
With a 3-0 showing in the 2008 Conference USA Championship, the Tulane University volleyball team remained among teams receiving votes in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings.
While the Green Wave are still looking to crack the Top 25 for the first time in school history, Tulane did garner a school-record 71 votes to sit 27th in the nation. Despite not playing last week, the Wave saw their vote total increase by 13 votes after garnering 58 votes the previous week.
Tulane Improves In C-USA Play
While the Tulane team has enjoyed a spectacular season so far in 2008, the Green Wave have been noticeably better against conference teams than non-league foes.
Not only does Tulane have more wins in league play (15) than in non-conference action (9) during the regular season, the Green Wave are hitting nearly 70 points higher in league action while have improvements of 1.44 kills, 1.39 assists, 0.75 digs, 0.12 aces and 0.40 blocks per set against teams from Conference USA. Below is a statistical breakdown of Tulane's numbers based on league affiliation.
Stat Category Non Conference Conference Difference Overall* Attack Percentage .217 .294 +.077 .260 Kills 13.36 14.82 +1.46 14.16 Assists 12.51 13.86 +1.35 13.25 Digs 14.17 15.00 +0.83 14.62 Service Aces 1.15 1.30 +0.15 1.23 Blocks 1.90 2.32 +0.42 2.13 *at the conclusion of the regular season
The Call It The Streak
While it is unlikely that Ray Stevens will be singing his 1974 hit at Tulane's campus and no one in the Green Wave program plans on interupting a Snoop Dogg concert to align the masses for a naked jog down through the quad and into the gymnasium "Old School" style, the Tulane volleyball team has been doing a little streaking on their own.
With 3-2 win over second-seeded UAB in the Conference USA, Championship Match on Nov. 23 in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, the Wave ran their winning streak to a school-record 16 in a row to raise their 2008 overall record to 27-5.
The current streak surpasses the former mark of 15 originally set from Oct. 14-Nov. 5, 1977 and matched from Oct. 23, 1986 through Sept. 5, 1987.
In addition, Tulane's win streak is the fourth longest in the country right now behind Penn State (58), Saint Louis (20) and North Dakota State (19).
The Streak, Part II
With a trio of victories three weeks ago at Fogelman Arena, the Tulane volleyball team extended its school-record, home-court win streak to 24.
The Green Wave broke the previous home winning streak of 17 set from Sept. 9, 2003, to Oct. 8, 2004, with a 3-1 Conference USA win over Rice back on Sept. 29. Tulane's current home winning streak began with a 3-1 win over UTEP in the final regular-season match of the 2006 season, and the Green Wave posted a perfect 12-0 record at Fogelman Arena last year. So far in 2008, Tulane is 8-0 at home.
The Wave's home win streak ranks as the fourth longest among NCAA Division I programs behind Nebraska (78), Penn State (53) and Colorado State (28). Princeton is next with a string of 21 straight home wins.
Kritza Claims Key Win
With a 3-2 win at Houston on Oct. 26, fourth-year head coach Liz Kritza now has at least one win on every Conference USA team's home court.
For her career, Kritza is 70-38 overall and 40-21 in C-USA play. Since 2006, however, Kritza is 65-22 overall and 38-8 in league action. In addition to being 31-3 all time at home, Kritza's teams are 1-0 at East Carolina, 1-3 at Houston, 1-1 at Marshall, 2-1 at Memphis, 3-1 at Rice, 3-1 at SMU, 2-0 at Southern Miss, 2-2 at Tulsa, 1-1 at UAB, 2-0 at UCF and 3-1 at UTEP in regular-season action.
On The Attack
Through the first 16 matches of the 2008 season, the Green Wave sat seventh among the 12 Conference USA programs with a .213 attack percentage courtesy of 814 kills and 362 errors in 2,122 swings.
Over the last 13 contests of the regular season, however, Tulane is hitting .326 with 659 kills and just 176 misfires in 1480 opportunities to raise its overall percentage to .260, which now ranks tops in C-USA. During that span, the Wave had five matches with less than 10 attack errors, including a season-low six in a 25-13, 25-18, 25-13 win over SMU on Nov. 7 in Fogelman Arena. Over the last 13 matches, five Tulane student-athletes are averaging at least 2.00 kills per set and all five are connecting at least at a .270 clip.
Kills All Around
In Oct. 26's five-set victory at Houston, five Tulane student-athletes finished with double-digit kill totals as Ksenija Vlaskovic tallied 18 followed by Sara Radosevic with 14, Jen Linder and Bridget Wells with 12 each, and Visnja Djurdjevic with 11.
It marked the second time this season that five Green Wave players tallied 10-plus kills in the same match as Tulane accomplished the feat back on Oct. 10 in a 3-1 win at Tulsa.
Since rally scoring was introduced to college volleyball in 2001, the Green Wave had just one match with five players posting double-digit kill totals in the same match and that came last year's season-opening five-set victory over Colorado.
The Green Wave have not played a match since winning the C-USA Tournament on Nov. 23. That, however, does not mean the team has been inactive since then. The Tulane team practiced throughout the last two weeks, including an intrasquad scrimmage last Saturday, which featured assistant coaches Sinisa Momic, Meg Henican and Blazen Draguljic lining up across the net from the Green Wave regulars.
Tulane & 1,000 kills
At the beginning of the 2008 season, the Tulane roster featured one player with 1,000 career kills - Sara Radosevic. Fifteen matches into the year, the Green Wave had three.
Junior right-side hitter Ksenija Vlaskovic became the 12th player in Tulane history to surpass the 1,000-kill career barrier, doing so on Sept. 26 against Houston. Then, on Oct. 3 in Memphis, senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells followed suit to become No. 13. Vlaskovic and Wells now have 1,160 and 1,189 career kills, respectively. Wells is now 10th in Tulane career history in kills and just 45 behind Anastasia Kenon (2001-04) for nine place. Vlaskovic, meanwhile, stands 11th in career kills, 44 ahead Becky Meadows (1991-94).
Miller Sets Digs Mark
With a match-high 11 digs in Tuesday's 3-0 win over UNO on Oct. Oct. 14 at Fogelman Arena, junior libero Jenn Miller brought her career total to 1,369 to become Tulane's career dig's leader. Miller broke the former mark of 1,366 set by Karlyn Daly from 2000-03. Since then, Miller has added 174 digs in the last nine matches to give her 1,543 digs in 91 matches.
Miller has the luxury of being just the second player in Tulane history to play the libero position throughout her career (the position was added to college volleyball in 2002) and is actually the first to play the position excluseivley. Daly played the position her final two collegiate seasons while Kelli Dickson flip-flopped between libero and setter from 2002-05.
Miller's career 4.78 digs-per-set average also ranks No. 1 in Tulane history, which is nearly a dig and a half better than second-placed Kim Sentmore (3.37 d/s from 1997-2000).
Radosevic Makes History As Well
Jenn Miller may have made history on Oct 14 (see Miller Sets Digs Mark, above), but three days later, it was Radosevic's turn as the native of Zagreb, Croatia, became just the fifth player in Tulane history to post 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
With 14 kills and nine digs against East Carolina on Oct. 17, Radosevic joined Jill Fayard (1995-98), Britney Hurst (1999-2002), Anastasia Kenon (2001-04) and Kim Sentmore (1997-2000) in the 1,000/1,000 club.
For her career, Radosevic now has 1,886 kills and 1,121 digs, which ranks second and sixth in Green Wave history, respectively.
Radosevic Does It Again
Senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic added to her already impressive career in the Conference USA Tournament by becoming the Green Wave's career service ace leader.
With four aces against UCF, one against Houston and three against UAB, Radosevic now has 191 career aces to surpass the former record of 186 set by Gina Vaccaro from 1990-93.
Linder Sets A Pair Of Attack Percentage Marks
Senior middle blocker Jen Linder has been a key ingredient for the Green Wave defensively throughout ther career, but left a pair of lasting imprints on the Tulane record book for attack percentage.
Oct. 12 at SMU, she stamped her name atop the Tulane single-match attack percentage categroy as the native of Austin, Texas, hit .909 in a straight-sets victory over the Mustangs. Linder tallied 10 kills and no errors in 11 swings to post the record-setting attack mark to surpass the former Green Wave mark of .818 set by Angie Smith against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 12, 1992. Linder's .909 attack percentage also ranks third in C-USA history as well.
Then, on Oct. 26, she was at it again with 12 kills and no errors in 16 swings to post a .750 attack percentage in the Wave's five-set win at Houston. Linder's attack percentage against the Cougars ranks tied for second in school history and is the top mark for a five-set match. She surpassed her own former record of .692 against UCF on Nov. 5, 2006.
Additional Records To Watch
In addition to previously above mentioned student athletes climbing in the Tulane career record book, the Green Wave team features two other student-athletes moving up in the team's all-time standings.
With 774 assists on the year, senior Luna Rebrovic now has 3,306 assists for her career which sits third in Green Wave history. She is now just 77 assists shy of second-placed Megan Murdock (3,383 from 1991-94).
Fellow setter, junior Rachel Lindelow, is second on the club with 539 assists so far this season. That moves her into sixth place in school history with 2,010 career assists.
In addition, senior middle blocker Jen Linder moved into sole possesion of eighth place in Tulane history with 347 total blocks, which is just one shy of current head coach Liz Kritza's 348 for seventh place. Her 316 career block assists, meanwhile, ranks fourth in Tulane history.
Running The 6-2 System
One of the main reasons for Tulane's success on the volleyball court over the last three years has been the Green Wave running of a 6-2 system - which requires the team to rotate two setters throughout matches so that the club has three front-row hitters at all times.
Tulane initially employed the system in 2003 under then-head coach Betsy Becker, but it was not until 2006 that the system began to really propel the Wave into national prominence.
With rising sophomore Luna Rebrovic and incoming freshman Rachel Lindelow that year, then-second year head coach Liz Kritza used the system to help Tulane led C-USA in assists (15.00 a/s) and kills (16.00 k/s) while finishing fifth in attack percentage (.244). In 2007, the Green Wave paced the league in attack percentage (.268), assists (15.77 a/s) and kills (16.99 k/s). At the conclusion of the 2008 regular season, Tulane leads C-USA in attack percentage (.256) while ranking second kills (14.01 k/s) and assists (13.10 a/s).
Tough Early-Season Slate
While the Green Wave may not be where they want to be record-wise at 2-4 nine matches into the 2008 season, the Tulane team helped prepare itself for a run at the postseason by playing three teams in the AVCA Top 25 and another that was receiving votes.
Tulane opened the year against Missouri, which at that time was sitting 37th in the nation in the preseason AVCA poll, and dropped a 3-1 decision to the Tigers on opening day. From there, Tulane fell to then-No. 20 BYU in four. The following weekend, the Green Wave dropped straight-set matches to then No. 14 Cal Poly and No. 2 Nebraska.
The Green Wave did, however, pick up a marquee victory against a Top 25 team two weeks later when they knocked off then-No. 14 Middle Tennessee State, 3-2, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Tulane Knocks Off Nationally-Ranked Foe
When assembling the Green Wave's 2008 schedule, head coach Liz Kritza knew that she and her staff needed to assemble a slate that would both challenger her experienced team and give the squad an opportunity to earn its first-ever trip to the NCAA postseason.
With four nationally-ranked teams lined up prior to the start of Conference USA action, Kritza realized her team might take a few lumps along the way with the reward being the ability to play at a higher level for having played superior non-conference competition. In their first three matches against ranked teams, the Green Wave came up empty.
But in try No. 4, Tulane hit paydirt with a five-set victory over No. 14 Middle Tennessee State. The 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 16-14 victory was the just the second by Tulane against a nationally-ranked team and the first since Sept. 22, 1993, when the Wave downed then-No. 25 LSU in five (10-15, 15-11, 15-5, 7-15, 20-18).
Sharing The Wealth
With Tulane running a 6-2 offense and constantly having three front-row attackers on the court at all times, the Green Wave setters have done a good job of spreading the ball in 2008.
In Conference USA play, which began on Sept. 26 against Houston, five players posted at least 110 kills and averaged at least 1.93 kills per set, including senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic who led the team with 215 kills and a 3.77 kills-per-set average in 57 sets. With the setters moving the ball around, Tulane is posting a .294 attack percentage in league play.
For the season, the Tulane offense is connecting at a .256 clip after tallying 1,639 kills and 601 errors in 4,062 attempts. Four student-athletes are currently averaging at least 2.30 kills per set as Radosevic has a team-best 3.56 average. Senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells is next with a 3.09 clip, freshman outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic is averaging 2.38 kills per set, and junior right-side hitter Ksenija Vlaskovic follows with an average of 2.30.
Five different players have led Tulane in kills during individual matches so far in 2008 as Radosevic has paced the team 15 times, Wells did so on nine occasions, Djurdjevic in five matches, Vlaskovic twice and senior middle blocker Jen Linder once. The combination of Radosevic and Wells tied for team-high kill honors on one additional occasion, as did Djurdjevic and Vlaskovic.
One of the common themes of Tulane's early-season opponents in 2008 was that a sense of unfamiliarity as nine of the Green Wave's first 11 opponents were first-time foes.
Since the program's inception in 1975, Tulane had never played BYU, Jacksonville State, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota State, Northeastern, Ohio, Utah State or Xavier. With all of Tulane's regular-season first-time foes already played, Tulane is now 7-2 record in those matches. There is still a shot for Tulane to possibly take down another first-time foe, but that would not come until the NCAA postseason should the Green Wave make it that far.
The Green Wave opened the year with a 3-1 loss to Missouri in day one of the BYU Molten Classic and followed that with another 3-1 loss to host BYU in Provo, Utah. Facing its third first-time foe of the weekend, the Green Wave then earned its first win of the season with a 3-0 victory against Utah State. In the Paso Robles Marriott Invitational, Tulane downed first-time opponent Northeastern, 3-1, on Sept. 12 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
From there, Tulane swept first-time foes Jacksonville State (3-1), North Dakota State (3-0) and Maryland (3-0) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic from Sept. 12-13 in Fogelman Arena, before downing Ohio (3-2) and Maryland the following weekend in Ohio.
For the first time in school history, the Tulane University volleyball team opened the 2008 season as the preseason favorite to win a conference title as the Green Wave were picked to win the Conference USA regular-season crown on a vote of league coaches released on Aug. 4.
In addition, senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic was named Preseason C-USA Player of the Year, marking the first time in the program's history that a Tulane student-athlete earned the honor in the sport of volleyball. She was joined on the preseason All C-USA team by senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells, junior right-side hitter Ksenija Vlaskovic and junior libero Jenn Miller.
The Green Wave, which finished 28-6 last season and was 30th in the final AVCA poll, earned the preseason honors after returning all 13 student-athletes from last year's squad. Tulane was second in C-USA in 2007, at 14-2, the second straight year the Wave turned in a school record for highest C-USA finish and win total. Tulane is now 40-8 in C-USA in the last three seasons, including a 15-1 record in 2008 en route to winning the first league title in the 33-year history of the program.
Reason For The Excitement
One of the reasons for those high expectations in 2008 is the return of all 13 letterwinners from a year ago as well as the addition of a pair of talented true freshmen.
While senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic grabbed an early headline via her proclamation as the Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year. She was joined on the Preseason All C-USA Team by senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells, junior outside/right-side hitter Ksenija Vlaskovic and junior libero Jenn Miller.
Miller, Radsovic and Wells claimed honorable-mention All-America recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Associatoin, and the preseason foursome claimed all-conference honors in 2007, as did rising senior middle blocker Jen Linder. Also returning for the 2008 season are seniors Ashley Bernards (DS), Lauren Boatwright (MB), Liz McGehee (DS) and Luna Rebrovic (S), junior Rachel Lindelow (S/RS) and sophomores Amaris Genemaras (OH/RS), Lindsey Shepard (MB) and Stephanie Stromath (MB).
Boatwright Lost For Season
The Green Wave were dealt a bit of bad news during the preseason as the coaching staff found that the team would be without the services of senior middle blocker Lauren Boatwright in 2008 and beyond due to an injury.
A three-year starter who has posted 279 kills and 243 digs during her career, Boatwright will miss her senior season due to bone marrow edema. That does not mean, however, that she will not continue to be an integral part of the team.
While she no longer suits up for the Green Wave, Boatwright is currently serving as a student assistant where she helps keep bench stats and helps oversee the program's tape exchange procedures.