Dec. 22, 2013
BATON ROUGE, La. - There isn't much space left in the Tulane trophy case from all of the accolades earned by the squad this year, and there is even less room after the Louisiana Sports Writer's Association named Cori Martone, Mel Mandelbaum and Tea Juric to the All-Louisiana First Team, while also honoring Juric as the Co-LSWA Freshman of the Year and Sinisa Momic as the Louisiana Coach of the Year, announced the LSWA late Saturday.
The awards are voted on by members of the LSWA. Sports information directors who are LSWA members are not allowed to vote for their own athletes.
Tulane was the only team to place three volleyballers on the First Team, and the three members mark the first time the Green Wave have placed three volleyballers on the First Team since 2008, when Visnja Djurdjevic, Sara Radosevic and Bridget Wells graced the First Team. Tulane has had three volleyballers honored by the LSWA in the same year now on 12 different occasions since the first LSWA poll was created in 1987.
"It's an honor for all of us to receive this award and see that what we have done this year is getting recognized," said the director of Tulane volleyball Sinisa Momic. "All the staff and players worked very hard for a long time to achieve such a turn around with the program, and also it shows the kind of contribution Mel, Cori and Tea made as individual players to their team and the program this season."
Momic, who earned the Conference USA Coach of the Year honors in late November, led the Green Wave to the nation's largest turnaround from 2012 to 2013. Last season, the Green Wave finished 6-21, and were picked to finish 10th in the league during the preseason conference poll by opposing coaches. However, Tulane went 28-4 during the 2013 campaign, and came in second when it was all said and done. Tulane led the conference in kills per set (14.90) and assists per set (13.89) while ranking fourth and seventh nationally in the respective categories. The Green Wave were also second in the conference - and 18th nationally - in hitting percentage, blasting .267 on the year.
As for Juric, she joins a group of Djurdjevic (2008), Radosevic (2005), Kelli Dickson (2002), Anastasia Kenon (2001), Alicia Robertson (1991) and Shelly Richey (1990) as the only other Louisiana Freshman of the Year award winners. Juric was named the Co-Freshman of the Year alongside LSU's Briana Holman.
Juric was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year this season, and became just the fifth freshman in league history to earn All-Conference USA First Team honors. Two weeks ago, the native of Croatia earned honorable mention All-Southwest Region honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. The freshman led the Green Wave in kills (446), kills per set (3.98), points (489.0) and points per set (4.37) while placing second on the team in service aces (24) and digs (2.54). She played in 112 of the team's 115 sets on the year. She hit .277 on the season, and with her 1,002 total attack attempts on the season, she already ranks sixth in school history in hitting percentage.
Mandelbaum was the first Tulane volleyballer to earn Setter of the Year honors from Conference USA, and she also became the first setter in program history to be named to the league's First Team. Mandelbaum led Conference USA in assists (1,332) and assists per set (11.7). Her assists per set mark placed her ninth in the entire NCAA. During the season, the Clovis, Calif., vaulted her way to second place in school history in career assists, finishing with 3,684. Her total from this season was the sixth most in one season in school history.
Martone is the only one who is familiar with the LSWA All-Louisiana accolades, as she earned Second-Team honors in her freshman year, followed by First-Team honors during her sophomore and junior campaigns. The Baton Rouge, La., native joins Erin Fogarty (1987-90), Alicia Robertson (1991-94) and Sara Radosevic (2005-08) as the only four-time LSWA honorees in Tulane history.
Martone placed seventh in kills per set in Conference USA (3.77) while ranking eighth in points per set (4.32). She ranked second to Juric on the team in both categories, along with her 388 kills and 444.5 points. Martone also totaled 17 service aces, 73 total blocks (six solo) and 265 digs, while placing second on the team in digs per set with a clip of 2.57. Martone wrapped up her career by placing eighth in school history in kills (1,375), eighth in kills per set (3.27), eighth in attack attempts (3,449), ninth in service attempts (1,479) and tenth in points (1610.0).
Martone and Mandelbaum were named to the All-Southwest Region First Team two weeks ago, and followed that up with AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors earlier this week.
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