NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane volleyball team (29-8, 13-5 AAC) is headed to the final round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, defeating College of Charleston (20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-17) in the semifinal matchup at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse.
“We played a great Charleston team but our young team was ready for the challenge,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “It was a big match for so many of our players and it was a true team effort. We’re looking forward to Big 12 Iowa State for the finals. I’m very familiar with them and its a great way for our terrific seniors to go out!”
The Green Wave will face Iowa State (20-13, 9-7 Big 12) in Ames, Iowa on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the team’s first-ever postseason championship appearance.
The first team in the American Athletic Conference to advance to the final round of the NIVC, Tulane is now 29-8 overall and 18-2 record at home. This is only the third season in program history that the Green Wave have won 29 matches, and the first time since 1987 that the team has won 18 home matches.
Sophomore outside hitter Lexie Douglas led the team with 14 kills and only one error, hitting .542 in the four-set victory. Senior middle hitter Dayna Kern and freshman middle hitter Kayla Dinkins also recorded double-digit kills in the win, tallying 13 and 11 while hitting .235 and .667, respectively. Kern and Dinkins not only dominated on the offensive end of the court, but also totaled five and four blocks each for a strong defensive effort.
Recording 24 digs in the match against the Cougars, junior libero Kaylie McHugh has totaled 612 so far this season and is the new first-place program record holder for single-season digs, with the previous record set in 2007.
Freshman outside hitter Makala Heidelberg also tallied double-digit digs in the match, earning 13 while also adding seven kills and five blocks. Sophomore setter Jenna Ibieta earned a double-double, totaling 28 assists to lead the Green Wave while also adding 10 digs.
The start of the match marked a hard fight, with the teams posting seven tied scores early in the set. A 6-1 run from College of Charleston sent the Cougars ahead with a 13-8 score, ultimately staying on top to take the first set 25-20. The Green Wave held CofC at set point with a kill from Kern and a block from Heidelberg and Dinkins, but the visiting team was able to close the first set of play with a kill and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Green Wave came out firing in the second set, hitting .303 with two quick kills from Dinkins and one from freshman outside hitter Yvette Burcescu giving the home team an early 4-1 lead. A 4-0 run from Charleston tied the score at 8-8 but a 10-1 run from Tulane, with kills from Douglas, Kern and Heidelberg and a service ace from Mordell, put the home team on top by nine with an 18-9 lead. The Green Wave stayed ahead, with a Cougars ball handling at set point solidifying the win and tying the match at 1-1.
Tulane started the third set in similar fashion to the second, earning a quick 5-1 lead with kills from Heidelberg and Kern and a service ace from senior libero Lisa Mordell. The Green Wave extended their lead to 11-4 with another 6-2 run, sparked by kills from Dinkins and Douglas along with a second ace from McHugh. A 6-1 run from CofC made it a two-point score at 18-16, but Tulane was able to stay on top with a kill from Douglas ending the set at 25-22 and putting the Green Wave ahead 2-1 in the match.
Though Charleston jumped out to a quick 8-4 lead at the start of the fourth set, a 5-1 Tulane run tied the score at 9-9. The Cougars tied it up again at 13-13 but another 5-1 run, with two blocks from Heidelberg and Dinkins and a service ace from Kern, put the Green Wave ahead 18-14. A 7-2 run from the Olive and Blue finished it out, with a kill from Dinkins at match point ending the match, 3-1, and earning Tulane a spot in the championship.
Article courtesy Tulane Sports Information Department