Last weekend, Tulane women’s volleyball hosted its season opener, the two day I-10 Tournament where they faced the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of the Incarnate Word. The Green Wave swept its schedule in the tourney, finishing the day 3-0. Tulane held its perfect record intact against the University of New Orleans this past Tuesday, failing to give up a single set.
The team has seen some significant changes in the new season. Former Tulane Volleyball star Sarah Strasner signed on as assistant coach. Strasner ranks third in Tulane record books for her attacking percentage, fourth for assists and fifth in total blocks. Five freshman have been added to the team, giving the Green Wave one of the top 55 signing classes in the country.
Freshman Makala Heidelberg was chosen as Most Valuable Player for the weekend tournament, boasting a total of 15 kills and 22 digs. The team continues to be led by junior Kaylie McHugh, who coach Jim Barnes describes as the “best libero” in the league and who also received the designation of Most Valuable Defensive Player for the tournament.
The team’s initial tournament match against UTEP was hard-fought, with Tulane falling behind in the first set due to hitting errors until a flurry of offense tied the score at 19. Sophomore middle hitter Markenzie Benoit recorded six kills out of a total 14 from the Green Wave in the first set, giving the team the momentum needed to win the set and the match. The second set was even more cut throat, with both teams vying for the lead, but blocks from Benoit and junior right side hitter Erika Hansel led the Green Wave to victory once again. Benoit and Hansel led the team to final victory in the third set, with eight and nine kills, respectively.
Matches against ULL and UIW were also successful for the team. The Green Wave stayed on top through all three sets with UIW, coming out especially strong on the final set with help from junior outside hitter Meghan Doyle and sophomore outside hitter Lexie Douglas. Tulane struggled in the second set against ULL, trailing 19-13, until Heidelberg made four diving digs to bring the power back to the Green Wave. The team dominated the final set 25-15. Heidelberg and freshman outside hitter Yvette Burcescu were also particular standouts in the second set.
Tuesday’s game against UNO was a furtherance of the Green Wave’s winning ways. Heidelberg recorded a team high twelve digs, while Douglas and senior middle hitter Hannah Shaw led offensively with seven kills each on their way to a win over the Privateers.
Women’s volleyball will hit the road this week to attend the Georgia Tech Invitational, where they will face Wofford and South Alabama on Thursday and Alabama State and Georgia Tech on Friday.