Press Release courtesy of Tulane Athletics
With the team back on campus following the winter break, Tulane beach volleyball wasted no time getting back into the meeting rooms and onto the courts in preparation for the start of the 2018 regular season.
Head coach Wayne Holly and assistant coach Shane Spellman gathered the squad in the Hertz Center for a week of team meetings to review regular season procedure and goals, as well as discuss personal growth tactics.
“We start out with a full week of team development before we go outside to play volleyball,” Head Coach Wayne Holly said. “We get together and figure out what our core values are, what’re the things we believe in, what’re the things we want to accomplish and how we want to go about doing that. We focus on developing our student-athletes as people, rather than just as athletes, because so much of what we do now and in the future doesn’t involve volleyball.”
The Green Wave enter the 2018 regular season on the heels of a historic 2017 campaign. Last spring, Tulane made program history on many different fronts, finishing 24-13, the most single-season wins in program history, and earning its first-ever wins at the CCSA Conference Championships. As freshman, Kaylie McHugh and Tarin Mergener combined for 54 overall wins, breaking the freshman class record and spurring Holly’s program to its fourth consecutive winning season. Mergener was named to the CCSA All-Tournament Team last season and posted the second-best record on the team at 27-10.
As the start of the regular season draws closer, Holly and his team have taken a different approach to practices, adopting a different mindset compared to that of the fall’s. Holly said spring practices are more situational with an emphasis on strategic and tactical development.
“We’re playing out a lot more scenarios and, simply, there’s a lot more playing,” Holly said. “Practices carry a lot more energy because any player enjoys playing more than they enjoy doing drills. The mindset now has shifted more towards thinking, problem solving and competing, as opposed to individual skill development. We try to hit them with a lot of situations and surprise them because that’s what happens during season. Sometimes you’re late, sometimes the bus breaks down, and so we develop the players to be ready for anything that we could conceivably see during the season.”
Among the players are returners senior Madeline Mertz, a preseason all-conference selection and a member of the CCSA All-Tournament Team last season, and junior Anna Chin. Mertz returns this year after posting a 23-14 record and finishing the 2017 season on a five-match winning streak while Chin, who is expected to pair with Mertz, played in 20 matches last season, going 11-9 on the year with seven of her wins coming in straight sets.
Mertz and Chin rolled together in the fall, playing as the No. 1 duo in both preseason tournaments. The upperclassmen went 5-1 at the Gulf Shores Collegiate Clash before winning duals against pairings from HBU and UAB in the Green Wave Fall Invitational, leading Tulane through a successful and winning preseason.
Nonetheless, Holly said there is still training left to do before the Green Wave’s season kicks off.
“We just want to have put them through so much pressure that the pressure that we expect the team to feel in the first match of the season will not be new,” Holly said. “We want to put the players in high-pressure situations, so that they have seen every situation and have felt every feeling they could feel before the season begins. That’s really on us – the coaches – to do.”
The Green Wave open up the season March 3-4 at Fight in the Fort in Fort Worth, Texas, facing host TCU, Arizona State and Cal Poly. Tulane then moves west March 9-10 for the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, Calif., to play Boise State, San Jose State, host Stanford, Cal and Arizona State.
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