Tulane Volleyball’s win streak ends at Cincinnati in five-set heartbreaker

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CINCINNATI – The Tulane volleyball team fell to Cincinnati in a five-set heartbreaker on the road, ending the Green Wave’s 11-match winning streak to put the team at 23-8 this season.

“It took us two sets to adjust to the big arena and the different ball, but once we did we out-played Cincinnati until the very end,” said head coach Jim Barnes, who is one win away from 400 in his career. “We won most of the stats, hitting .281 to Cincinnat’s .254 with more kills and blocks. But some things didn’t go our way at the end and Cincinnati found the way. We are very proud of how we reacted and fought, our players represented Tulane with such class. Now we rebound and take care of business on Sunday and Wednesday and find out about post-season play.”

Tulane lost the first two sets (22-25, 17-25) and came back to win sets three and four (25-16, 25-22), before falling to Cincinnati in a hard-fought fifth set.

Five players from the Green Wave tallied double-digit kills in the five-set thriller. Sophomore outside hitter Lexie Douglas and junior right side hitter Erika Hansel each recorded 14, while hitting .324 and .286, respectively, while senior middle hitter Dayna Kern earned 12 while hitting .321. Freshman middle hitter Kayla Dinkins and freshman outside hitter Yvette Burcescu each grabbed 10, while hitting .529 and .308, respectively.

Freshman setter Taylor Henigsman led the team with 29 assists, followed by sophomore setter Jenna Ibieta with 27. Freshman outside hitter Makala Heidelberg topped the Green Wave’s stats with 18 digs, while junior libero Kayla McHugh tallied 15 while adding two service aces.

Tulane and Cincinnati exchanged back and forth points to start off the match, before the Bearcats took the lead with a 13-12 score and held it for the remainder of the first set to own a 1-0 match lead. Kills from Hansel and Kern put Tulane just one point behind UC with a 22-21 score to force a timeout, but the Bearcats came back quick with three kills to solidify the win.

Cincinnati grabbed a quick lead in set two, heading on a 5-0 run to make it a 12-7 score. A 4-0 run from the Green Wave closed the gap with a 21-16 score, but the Bearcats were able to hold it out to take a 2-0 advantage in the match.

The Green Wave’s momentum completely switched in third set, with the team dominating the court from the start. Tulane hit .282 as a team, holding Cincinnati to .152. The score was fairly even at the start of the set until a kill from Douglas sent the Olive and Blue on an 8-0 run to take a 10 point lead with a 23-13 score. A kill from Kern at set point put Tulane on the scoreboard, with a 2-1 match score forcing a fourth set.

Tulane continued its strong play into the fourth set, hitting .314 while earning 19 team kills and holding Cincinnati to .205. The Green Wave earned an early 9-4 lead and continued its tough play to stay on top to force the tie breaker. The Bearcats came within one with a 15-14 score, causing an even fight up until match point, when two kills from Heidelberg and one from Dinkins evened the match at 2-2.

Grabbing an early 4-1 lead in the final set, Tulane kept its energy high to keep the team on top. Consecutive kills from Dinkins gave the Green Wave a five-point lead with a 9-4 score, but the Bearcats ultimately caught up to tie the score at 12-12. A kill from Kern put the Olive and Blue ahead by one, but a strong Cincinnati offense gave the team three quick points to finish the match.

Tulane is set to face ECU on Sunday at 1

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