NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane volleyball team (29-8, 13-5 AAC) is headed to Iowa State for the final round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC), competing on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum in the Green Wave’s first ever postseason championship appearance.
“I would like to thanks President Fitts, Troy Dannen, Monica Lebron, Jana Woodson and Chris Maitre for their tremendous support,” said head coach Jim Barnes. “We have gone from being a very young team, picked 10th in the AAC preseason polls in August, to playing like hungry veterans going for an NIVC championship. It’s been a remarkable ride, and our seniors Lisa Mordell, Hannah Shaw and Dayna Kern are going out in style. Iowa State is a tough Big 12 team with a great left side attacker. Our balanced team play is key. One thing is for sure – we were made for this.”
This run has been part of Tulane’s first postseason appearance since 2009 and third overall in program history. An 11-match win streak in American Athletic Conference play spurred Tulane’s success on the court, with the team breaking multiple conference records while surpassing individual and team program records in a historic season that will end with an opportunity to claim a championship title.
The Green Wave ended their season with an 18-2 home record and now heads to Ames, Iowa, for its final match of 2018. The last time Tulane won 18 home matches was 31 years ago, with 19 home wins and a overall 33-7 record. Finishing the regular season with a 25-8 overall record and a 13-5 conference record, the Green Wave placed third in The American after having been selected 10th in the preseason coaches poll.
Tulane leads the conference defensively with an opponent hitting percentage of .149 while moving up to fifth in the nation after four rounds of postseason action. The team also ranks first in the conference in service aces with 1.42 and second in blocks with 2.47 per set while also ranking third in kills, hitting percentage and assists with an average of 13.69, .237 and 13.11.
Sophomore outside hitter Lexie Douglas and junior right side hitter Erika Hansel lead the team offensively, recording 346 and 344 kills while hitting .228 and .241, respectively.
Junior libero Kaylie McHugh tops the Green Wave’s defensive stats, totaling a program-record 613 total digs, averaging 4.41 per set, while adding a conference single-season record 60 service aces to stand at seventh in the nation.
Senior middle hitter Dayna Kern leads the league with 150 total blocks, averaging 1.21 per set, while also adding 291 kills to stand at fourth in the AAC with a .314 hitting percentage.
Iowa State (20-13, 9-7 Big 12)
Iowa State swept Drake and Bradley in the first and second rounds of the NIVC before defeating North Texas and UNLV in the quarterfinal and semifinal matchups to earn a spot in the final round against Tulane.
The Cyclones have faced seven ranked opponents in 2018, pulling out wins over then-No. 17 UNI (3-0) and then-No. 22 Kansas (3-0).
Iowa State’s 9-7 conference record put the team tied for third place in the Big 12. The team leads the conference in multiple categories – total kills (1,691), kills per set (14.09), assists (1,593), assists per set (13.28), service aces (138), digs (1985), digs per set (16.54) and blocks (326).
Senior outside hitter Jess Schaben checks in at second in the Big 12 in kills with 502 this season, ranking fourth in kills per set with 4.18. Redshirt junior defensive specialist/libero Hali Hillegas takes the number two conference spot in digs with 485 and the three spot in digs per set with 4.04.
Tulane holds an 0-1 record against Iowa State all-time, with the opponents’ sole matchup held in September of 1980 at the Oral Roberts Invitational in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Article courtesy Tulane Sports Information Department