Tulane defeats ECU for volleyball coach Barnes’ 400th career win
GREENVILLE, North Carolina – The Tulane volleyball team defeated ECU in four sets (25-20, 18-25, 25-16, 25-19) in the team’s final regular season road match-up on Sunday, going 24-8 overall and 12-5 in the American Athletics Conference.
The Green Wave’s 3-1 win over the Pirates was not the only highlight of the day, as it also marked head coach Jim Barnes’ 400th career win.
“Once again we stepped up as a team and got a big win on the road,” Barnes said of his milestone win. “We got ECU’s best on senior night but we did a great job of stealing the momentum in the third set to put them away. Our middles both fueled our offense and it was a great defensive day for Kaylie [McHugh] and Lisa [Mordell], and Makala [Heidelberg] was the difference.”
Junior libero Kaylie McHugh earned a significant accomplishment in the four-set victory, breaking the conference record for single-season service aces with 56 total.
“Kaylie broke the conference ace record, but what is even more impressive is that she is the best passer in the AAC as well,” Barnes added of Tulane’s star defender. “She dominates the league on first contacts.”
Four Tulane players tallied double-digit kills in the match. Senior middle hitter Dayna Kern led the Green Wave with 14 while hitting .393, followed by sophomore outside hitter Lexie Douglas with 12, junior right side hitter Erika Hansel with 14 and freshman middle hitter Kayla Dinkins with 10, while hitting .125, .129 and .471, respectively.
On the defensive end, four players also recorded double-digit digs. Record-breaker Kaylie McHugh earned 19, followed by freshman outside hitter Makala Heidelberg with 18, senior libero Lisa Mordell with 14 and freshman setter Taylor Henigsman with 10.
Henigsman recorded her first career double-double in the Green Wave’s 24th win this season, adding 22 assists to her 10 digs. Sophomore setter Jenna Ibieta topped Tulane’s stats with 23 total assists.
An 11-1 run gave the Green Wave a strong start to the first set, grabbing a quick 17-10 lead. Two kills from Heidelberg kept Tulane on top with a 20-12 score, before a service ace from McHugh and a kill from Hansel put the Olive and Blue at set point. A kill from Douglas solidified the win and put Tulane ahead 1-0 in the match.
ECU and Tulane went back and forth in set two before a 4-1 run from the Pirates put the home team ahead with a 12-9 score. Consecutive kills from Dinkins and Heidelberg closed the score gap, putting the Green Wave three points short of the Pirates, but ECU was able to stay on top for the remainder of play and even the match at 1-1.
The Pirates grabbed an early 4-1 lead in the third set, but quick kills from Douglas and Burcescu, along with a block from Kern and Douglas, tied the score at 4-4. Both teams continued to sideout for a competitive match, until an 11-2 run put the Green Wave ahead with a 21-13 score. An ace from Mordell put Tulane at set point, 24-15, before a Pirates attacking error put Tulane back on top with a 2-1 match score.
Four consecutive kills from Kern gave the Green Wave an early 11-7 lead in the fourth set, with Tulane ultimately staying on top to finish the match ahead 25-19 and avoid a fifth set. Kills from Kern, Burcescu and Dinkins put the Olive and Blue at match point, while an ECU attacking error ended the match and handed the Green Wave their 12th AAC win.
Tulane heads back to New Orleans to prepare for the team’s final regular season match this week, celebrating Senior Day on Wednesday at 1 p.m. against Memphis.
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