Courtesy: Tulane Athletics
EMERSON, Ga. – Senior Madeline Mertz recorded the 100th win of her career in the first day at the CCSA Championship, becoming just the second athlete in program history to achieve the feat, but No. 19/15 Tulane dropped duals against No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 FIU to finish the day with an 0-2 record. The sixth-seeded Green Wave are now 21-14 overall this season.
ICYMI: Madeline Mertz made program history today!
WIN NUMBER 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣‼️
She's the second athlete in Tulane beach volleyball program history to hit that mark in career! E-L-I-T-E, ELITE!#RollWave ??? pic.twitter.com/3RLRrKER5n
— Tulane Beach VB (@GreenWaveBeach) April 20, 2018
“A couple of bounces go our way and we end up with much better results. What we’ve got to do is train better and play better so the game doesn’t turn on a couple of bounces. We need to do a better job to refine our skills, and we’ll be in a better position to dictate what the results of the games are. We played well, but well didn’t cut it against the great teams of the CCSA.”
“I just can’t say enough about Maddy. Just an unbelievable career she’s had, and she’ll continue tomorrow. She’s an All-Academic Team player for us, an All-Conference Team player for us. She represents us with great class, and for her to collect 100 wins really separates her further from the rest of the Division I players she competes against and with.”
-Head Coach Wayne Holly
HOW IT HAPPENED
No. 9 South Carolina 3, No. 19/15 Tulane 2
Tulane went back and forth against second-seeded South Carolina to open the action at the Championship.
Freshmen Rio Frohoff and Gabriella Becerra lost in straight sets in flight four, giving South Carolina an early advantage, but Tulane’s No. 5 pair of freshmen Ashley Delgado and Addison Hermstad were quick to respond. Delgado and Hermstad took down South Carolina’s pair in straight sets, winning 21-12, 21-9 to even the dual at one.
South Carolina then picked up a win in flight one to take a 2-1 lead. Tulane’s No. 1 pair of Mertz and sophomore Kaylie McHugh fell in straight sets by a score of 21-17, 21-12 – just their seventh loss of the season.
Junior Anna Chin and freshman Lauren Orlich, playing at the three, quickly erased the Green Wave’s deficit. Tulane’s pair won the first set, 21-13, but dropped the second to force a decisive third set. Chin and Orlich got the job done in the third, holding off South Carolina’s duo to win 15-12 and tie the dual at two.
All eyes then turned to the action in flight two. Senior Lan Nguyen and sophomore Tarin Mergener won the first set, 21-15, and looked to take control of the flight to give Tulane the dual win. South Carolina’s No. 2 pair, however, responded with a 21-16 win in the second set before sealing the flight and dual victory in the third by a score of 15-8.
No. 10 FIU 3, No. 19/15 Tulane 2
The action continued in the afternoon, where Tulane fought tooth and nail against third-seeded FIU, with four of the five flights going to three sets.
FIU opened a 1-0 lead with a win in flight three. Chin and Orlich fell in straight sets, losing 24-22, 21-16.
Mertz and McHugh were right there, however, to tie the dual at one. Tulane’s top pair went three sets against fellow CCSA All-Conference Team members Federica Frasca and Margherita Bianchi before securing a thrilling comeback victory.
Mertz and McHugh lost the first set, 21-11, as FIU’s top duo delivered a swift blow, but the second set told a different story. Mertz and McHugh took control and won 21-14, forcing a third set.
The pairs exchanged points before the Green Wave’s No. 1 duo won it, 15-13, giving them their 28th win of the season. With the win, Mertz tallied her 100th career victory, making her and Tea Juric the only two athletes in program history to reach the mark.
Tied at one, the Green Wave turned to their pairs in flights two, four and five. Becerra and Frohoff lost in three sets, falling 13-21, 22-20, 10-15, but Delgado and Hermstad pulled out a come-from-behind 19-21, 21-17, 15-13 victory.
Again, the focus was on Nguyen and Mergener in flight two. Tulane’s No. 2 pair won the first set, 21-19, but dropped the second in heartbreaking fashion, 27-25. A Green Wave dual win came down to a decisive third set, but FIU’s pair grinded out a 15-13 win to seal a 3-2 victory.
The Green Wave’s run for a conference championship continues tomorrow morning. Tulane plays UAB at 10:30 a.m. before wrapping up pool play against College of Charleston at 1:30 p.m.
UAB went 0-2 in day one of the competition while Charleston went 1-1.