Nov. 23, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -
Top seed Tulane became the fifth-straight different program in Conference USA volleyball history to win the league's tournament title and earn the conference automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Championship Photo Gallery
• CBSC Highlights
CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH 10: Tulane 3, UAB 2
Tulane picked up its first C-USA Tournament title and school-record 16th-straight win with a 20-25, 25-19, 25-9, 20-25 and 15-6 win over No. 2 seed UAB Sunday in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse in Memphis, Tenn. The five set victory marks the four-straight year the championship match went the distance.
The Green Wave moves to 27-5 on the year, behind the solid performance of tournament MVP Sara Radosevic who landed a match-high 18 kills. Freshman Visnja Djurdjevic, senior Bridget Wells and Ksenija Vlaskovic each contributed 14 kills in the victory. Radosevic added a team-high tying 15 digs for her 12th double-double of the year. Junior Jenn Miller also had 15 digs, followed by Djurdjevic's 13, giving her her ninth double-double of the yea and all-tournament honors. Dual setters Luna Rebrovic and Rachel Lindelow dished out 29 and 30 assists, respectively.
UAB, who's been in the last three tournament title matches, drops to 25-6 on the season and will await an at-large bid to the 2008 NCAA Volleyball Championship. The selection show is set to air on ESPNU from 10-10:30 p.m. ET on Sun., Nov. 30.
The Blazers were paced by senior Ivana Bozic's team-high 17 kills and 13 digs. Earning all-tournament honors for UAB was seniors Nevena Stefanov and Lilly Domingos. Stefanov dished out a match-high 46 assists, while Aleksandra Vujovic produced a match-high 21 digs. Domingos contributed six kills, one ace and three blocks.
As a team, Tulane hit .317 (68K-17E-161TA), had 66 digs, 11 service aces and six team blocks. UAB ended with a .219 (52K-20E-146TA) hitting efficiency, 65 digs, 11 aces and seven team blocks.
2008 C-USA All-Tournament Team
Justine Farmer, Houston
Tracey Lam, Rice
Lilly Domingos, UAB
Visnja Djurdjevic, Tulane
Nevena Stefanov, UAB
Sara Radosevic, Tulane (MVP)
Tulane Head Coach Liz Kritza Quotes
On winning the C-USA Volleyball Championship
"Obviously it was a very emotional win for us and for this particular group in general. This has been a long time coming for us. It has been four years since we won a conference championship. It took a lot of hard work and believing in this team when it seemed like nobody else would. I am incredibly proud of this group of coaches and players. It was a total team effort. There is not one player that we can point to that was the reason we came away with the victory. We have had fantastic groups of players before, but I am particularly happy for this group of players. This season has been about every individual foregoing what they think is important to them and doing what is important to the group and here we get a beautiful result because of it."
About losing the first and fourth sets but staying poised and winning the fifth set and the match
"To come back after the first set that we lost, I had to remind them what our advantages are. We were making it very difficult for ourselves. UAB is a very quality team. They are very well-coached. You can't just show up and play, you have to come in and play a very intelligent game against UAB. We weren't doing that in the first set. We came out and changed it in the second and third sets. UAB had nothing to lose in the fourth set. We had a problem stopping them offensively, which is unfamiliar territory for our players. We usually are able to keep the pace offensively, but we weren't able to do that in the fourth set. We had to go back to playing excellent defense to be able to equalize it out. I was a matter of they had nothing to lose and we knew they were going to come out on fire. We didn't know they would be that hot."
What did you have to as a team to be able to win the championship game?
"It took us being able to stay in the system. We knew that if we were able to stay in our system, that would be our advantage. We knew we had more options offensively than UAB did. It took senior leadership and it took coaches telling players to do things and the players understanding how to do things and what the adjustments were. That is what volleyball is at this level. It takes both teams executing their game, but being able to make adjustments based on what the opponents are doing on the other side."
What do you have to do as a team to get ready for the NCAA Tournament?
"We need to take a deep breath and appreciate and celebrate this win for a little bit, but than we need to get back to work. For us this is just the beginning. This has been what we have been working towards. We are happy to be there but we intend to make sure that our season isn't going to end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. There is so much more that this team can do."
UAB Head Coach Kerry Messersmith
I think anytime the two of us step on the floor it is going to be a battle and it has been in the three years that I've been here. We just didn't get a lot of offensive productivity out of our players so we struggled in that way. Tulane is a great team and you have to play great to beat a great team.
Thoughts on getting an at large NCAA Tournament bid.
Well, nothing is a given. We've seen the selection committee do some really odd things. We have a tough match ahead of us on Friday we play Cincinnati. They're playing to get into the NCAA tournament because they got upset in their conference tournament. I'm sure they feel like if they get a win they have a good chance to get in. I think this conference deserves two if not three. We've made a huge leap as a whole and hopefully the selection committee will reward our conference.
What can you say about your girls and your team?
I couldn't be more proud of our kids. For whatever reason, it wasn't our night tonight. We had a good weekend. These seniors have accomplished so much. I think we're the only team in the conference that has come home with a trophy for the last three years. We were champions in 2006 and you want to talk about a group of seniors that has accomplished a lot in their time here. They won one championship and have been runner up in two. I just can't say enough about how proud I am of these kids. That's one thing we just told them is hopefully we're not done. We're not done making noise. If we get into the tournament, hopefully, we can get beyond that first game and have a good showing.
What do the consistent tournament showings say about the people involved in your program?
It was hugely exciting for all of us. You just have to give a lot of credit to all of our seniors because they are obviously the ones that have led us here all three years. I know they were a little disappointed, because you want to win your conference championship, but the thing we told them was that there's nothing to be ashamed of. We have three trophies to prove it and we're hopefully not done yet.
CONFERENCE USA VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT MVP
Tulane Senior Outside Hitter Sara Radosevic
What are some of the emotions that go into winning the Conference USA Championship?
"We are very excited. We knew what he had to do from the beginning. We knew we had to separate ourselves from the rest of the conference. That is why we played all of the touch matches at the beginning of the season. Our goal was to be the regular season champions."
What is it like being named the MVP of the Conference USA Tournament?
"It means a lot. Being a Most Valuable Player means you are doing everything. You aren't just hitting. You are hitting, you are blocking and playing defense. It means you are a complete player and it means a lot to me."
What is it like to get the chance to go to the NCAA Tournament?
"We are all very excited to go to the NCAA Tournament. We know we can do it. We have been there before. We will be playing against the best-caliber players in the country. We have to forget about this tournament and keep practicing even harder and focus on the next opponent."