Beach volleyball blazes path for further success at Stanford Invitational

Tulane’s women’s beach volleyball team is off to an exciting start this season, holding an early 5-3 season record after its first two tournaments in Fort Worth, Texas, and Stanford, California.  

The Green Wave left last weekend’s Stanford Invitational with a 3-2 record, earning impressive wins on Friday against Boise State (4-1) and San Jose State (3-2), before losing 4-1 to Stanford. On Saturday, despite a tough 5-0 loss to Berkeley in the morning, Tulane finished the day strongly with a 3-2 win over Arizona State.

Head coach Wayne Holly attributed this rebound to Tulane’s familiarity with ASU, noting that the two teams met the Saturday before at the Fight at the Fort, where Arizona was swept 5-0. Holly also said he hoped the win was indicative of the team successfully applying what it had learned.

“Losing is not the end of the world,” Holly said. “It is just a disaster if you get the result and then can’t take anything out of it.”

Senior Madeline Mertz and sophomore Kaylie McHugh, who were both recently named preseason all-conference selections, won big in Stanford. They defeated their opponents 3-0 on Friday to secure Tulane’s top pair record, and they were the only Green Wave pair to score against Stanford. The two went on to lose their first match on Saturday against Berkeley before winning again over ASU. Holly is confident both players will continue to play well and receive national attention.

Even with the team’s success at the Stanford Invitational, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) ranks Tulane at No. 17. Holly, however, does not put much stock into rankings.

“We certainly appreciate if a lot of other people think well of us. That’s nice, that’s well-received, but we’re more focused on what we think of ourselves,” he said. “We know ourselves better than anyone.”

The attitudes Holly expressed were overwhelmingly positive. He said he is looking forward to a lot more success this year, explaining that his hope is for the Green Wave to reach the NCAA tournament this season. He admits to having no concerns for the team.

“We have a bunch of really well-prepared, smart, intelligent women who are going to do really well this year,” Holly said.

The team’s two main goals for this season are building camaraderie and a team culture as well as developing skill of the sport itself, and Holly credits the players for much of the success in achieving these objectives.

“I think that for being a relatively young team, our understanding of the game, our tactics and strategies have come along pretty well,” Holly said.

This upcoming weekend, the Green Wave will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, for the Blazer Beach Duals where, in playing the University of Alabama at Birmingham, it will face a conference opponent for the first time this season. Considering the talent of the American Athletic Conference, coach Holly is expecting a hard fought battle between the two teams, but remains confident nonetheless.

“We just have to go in an make sure we are focused and are playing every opponent as well as we can,” Holly said.

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