Wave volleyball sets its sights high for 2014-15 season

Mackenna Barker, Contributing Reporter

Tulane Volleyball is set to have another successful season following its breakout 28-4 overall season last year. American Athletic Conference coaches picked the Green Wave to finish No. 3 in the conference.

They also named sophomore outside hitters Tea Juric and Annie Shurtz to the Preseason All-American Athletic Conference. Juric and Shurtz were two of five underclassmen to be selected to the team.

The team finished with a 6-21 record in 2012, but with the arrival of seven new freshmen recruits in 2013, the team put together a 28-win season and finished No. 2 in Conference USA.

“It was finding all the pieces to the puzzle that we were missing and having the ability for our [senior setter Mel Mandelbaum] last year to have so many hitters that her talent really came up to the surface,” Tulane Director of Volleyball Sinisa Momic said. “[Mandelbaum’s] ability to basically run the best offense in the league and to have hitters that could contribute was the major key.”

The arrival of the seven freshmen was the final piece that completed the puzzle for the 2013-14 Green Wave.

“It was a good, good freshman class that gave us another mentality, and things just clicked,” Momic said. 

Momic said he is looking forward to seeing the returning players improve and three incoming freshmen players make a contribution, as well. 

“It’s a positive to bring in young, talented players that are all different positions,” Momic said. “Sarah Ray plays right side, but she’s a good, athletic, tall all-around player that is good for front row and back row. Maggie Singleton is a middle blocker, another 6-foot-2 player that is a good blocker, and we have Bianca Ryals who is a setter. They’re all bringing different skill sets.”

The team, like last season, is young with 10 underclassmen. The seven sophomores and three freshmen, however, will be key in the improvement of the team during the next couple of years. 

For now, the underclassmen need steady leadership, which senior middle blocker Anna Wruck provides. 

“As seniors we work hard to set a good example of work ethic and how you have to put the time in to get there,” Wruck said. “Like any other sport, you’re expected to know the ins and outs of what’s going on and lead the freshmen and lead the underclassmen.”

An area of focus for the team this season will be the setter position. Momic said it has been a process for the team this off-season to connect with a new setter. Mandelbaum’s graduation leaves the team without its consistent offensive threat, and it is unclear who will fill the void.

As Tulane prepares for a season in a new conference where it will face teams it has never played, Momic said the team needs to just take it “one step at a time” to build confidence.

Tulane opens its season Friday at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas. The Green Wave’s first home game is against Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Devlin Fieldhouse. 

Leave a Comment