Women’s volleyball sweeps Southern Miss invitational

Susan Fanelli, Staff Reporter

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After two days and two wins, Tulane women’s indoor volleyball beat the University of Southern Mississippi 3-2 in its final game last Saturday at the Southern Miss Invitational in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, going undefeated in its first tournament of the year. 

“Every win’s a good one, but even more so this weekend,” first-year head coach Jim Barnes said. “Everything we worked on, I think they saw it was validated once we started playing.” 

On the team’s way to its first tournament sweep since 2013, the Green Wave won all three sets against Grambling State University on the first day of the tournament last Friday, never letting the Tigers score more than 20 points a set.

The next day, the team played a close five-set game against McNeese State University. Tulane lost the first set but regained the lead with six blocks and 16 kills from senior middle hitter Sarah Strasner. 

The Green Wave’s final game saw them down two sets after giving up several crucial points. For coach Barnes and the team, there was no reason to worry. 

“Our game plan coming out after set two was ‘come out, let’s get a lead’ because we were always playing catch up,” Barnes said. “Let’s get a lead, make them play catch up. You know, you have to play with a lot of heart to do that, and they certainly demonstrated that.” 

Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Shaw relied on a sense of peace and her trust in her team to keep her head in the game.

“I was really paying attention to being calm and focused,” Shaw said.

That mentality proved successful, as the team won all three remaining sets and completed the sweep.

Tulane women’s volleyball finished the game with 66 kills and 14 blocks, as well as a .317 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Tea Juric completed the comeback with her final kill, leading the team with a total of 18 kills.   

“It’s teamwork,” Juric said. “Every person on the team brings the best out of you because there is so much support. We obviously put our teammates in front of us. We were able to win the game.” 

Following the conclusion of the tournament, three Tulane players were named to the all-tournament team: Strasner, Juric and Shaw. Collectively, the players combined for 104 kills, 37 digs and 128 points throughout the tournament. 

“Well deserved to Sarah Strasner,” Barnes said. “She’s a big heart of this team. Tea and Hannah are two big guns. Offensively, they’re great players, but they can play the whole game, so that’s what makes them special; they’re great attackers, but they can play the entire game really well.” 

Tulane women’s volleyball is already preparing for its next game. Its next tournament will be the Allstate Sugar Bowl, starting at 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Devlin Fieldhouse.

In its only home tournament, the Wave will face University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, Bethune-Cookman University and Sam Houston State University.

“This next coming week, we have our home tournament and it’s going to be a big deal,” Juric said. “Of course we want to try to do our best to perform even better than we did in those past three games.”  

Barnes would like to see his players keep playing for each other and continue on their path to success.  

“We don’t get distracted by being home or by people watching us,” Barnes said. “It’s about us, and all those good things will come because of that.”