New Orleans Beach Volleyball drops pair of matches in season finale

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Privateers say goodbye to seniors Brook Frank, Lauren Levy and Courtney Roblez in contests with HBU and Tulane

NEW ORLEANS – For those simply looking at the scoreboard, the University of New Orleans beach volleyball wrapped up the 2017 season with a pair of losses to Houston Baptist and Tulane in the New Orleans Invitational on Saturday at the UNO Beach Courts.

That, however, was just a small part in the celebration that was the season-ending event as the Privateers said goodbye to a trio of seniors as Brook Frank, Lauren Levy and Courtney Roblez made their final appearance in a UNO uniform. The trio were part of New Orleans’ inaugural team in 2015 and helped lay a solid foundation for the future of the program.

“They were here the very first year we started beach volleyball when our entire indoor team had to come out and play beach,” UNO head coach Millicent Van Norden said. “It was pretty rough that first season, but they were a part of it and they toughed it out. They knew things would be difficult, but that would be temporary. We were a new, young program and figured that we would learn and grow with every opportunity that we had to compete. Where we started and where we are now is a huge difference, and they were an integral part of that.

“It’s bitter sweet to see them go now that we’re trending on the way up and we have some more (beach) exclusive players in our program. I told them that one, two or three years from now, they’ll look back on this and know that they were a big part of starting this and be proud of how successful we will be at that time.”

Frank, however, was the lone senior to enjoy a win on Saturday as she teamed with freshman Rachel Kuhn to post a 21-12, 19-21, 16-14 victory against Houston Baptists’ No. 3 tandem of Bailey Banks and Melissa Fuchs during the Privateers’ 4-1 loss to the Huskies. Sophomore Blessing Dunn and redshirt-junior Cara Sander had a chance to double the Privateer point total after opening their showdown with Kayla Armer and Tori Hinojosa with a 21-19 win only to see the HBU tandem answer with wins of 21-17 and 15-8 to come out on top.

The next closest contest for UNO came on Court 5 where sophomore Madison Miller and Rhyan Rand dropped back-to-back 21-19 contests to Madison O’Brien and Danielle Wheeler. Houston Baptists other two wins came at the top of the lineup, where Aeriel Horton and Jessica Wooten down freshmen Veronica and Victoria Corcoran 21-13 and 21-19, and in No. 4 play, where Taylor Livoti and Morgan McDaniel defeated Levy and sophomore Samantha Uline in straight sets – 21-16, 21-15.

All five of the pairs contests against Tulane came in straight sets as Levy and Uline fell 21-19, 21-13 to Brianna Correa and Hannah Holmes on Court 4 to open the match while Miller and Rand dropped a 21-19, 21-16 decision to Christian McAfee and Sarah Strasner in No. 5 play.

The Green Wave clinched the team victory in No. 3 action where Frank and Kuhn fell to Tarin Mergener and Madeline Mertz 21-15, 21-8 and went ahead 4-0 in No. 2 play as the Corcoran twins dropped a 21-13, 21-17 contest to Lan Nguyen and Annie Shurtz. Tulane completed the sweep on Court 1 where Dunn and Sander lost to Tea Juric and Kaylie McHugh.

New Orleans concluded its third season on the dunes 5-16, but Van Norden was quick to point out the progress here team has shown not just this season, but since the inception of the program.

“We try not to gauge it off of wins and losses because a lot of the teams in this region are ranked in the Top 15 or Top 20 in the country,” she said. “We do know that how we’re playing is a lot different. We’ve increased our win/loss record each year, which is always important, but we think about how we’re playing. In that first season and even in some of that second season, we weren’t playing third sets in any or the pairings or any of the flights. Now, we’re competing most of the time.

“Now, it’s about taking the next step forward, being more mature in how we approach all of our competitions and having the skill set, consistency, control and poise to finish people off. As we prepare to go into next year, we’re right where we need to be in terms of progress.”

HOUSTON BAPTIST HUSKIES (12-13) DEFEAT NEW ORLEANS PRIVATEERS (5-15) – 4-1
No. 1: Aeriel Horton/Jessica Wooten (HBU) def. Veronica Corcoran/Victoria Corcoran (UNO) – 21-13, 21-19
No. 2: Kayla Armer/Tori Hinojosa (HBU) def. Blessing Dunn/Cara Sander (UNO) – 19-21, 21-17, 15-8
No. 3: Brook Frank/Rachel Kuhn (UNO) def. Bailey Banks/Melissa Fuchs (HBU) – 21-12, 19-21, 16-14
No. 4: Taylor Livoti/Morgan McDaniel (HBU) def. Lauren Levy/Samantha Uline (UNO) – 21-16, 21-15
No. 5: Madison O’Brien/Danielle Wheeler (HBU) def. Madison Miller/Rhyan Rand (UNO) – 21-19, 21-19

TULANE GREEN WAVE (24-13) DEFEAT NEW ORLEANS PRIVATEERS (5-16) – 5-0
No. 1: Tea Juric/Kaylie McHugh (TUL) def. Blessing Dunn/Cara Sander (UNO) – 21-14, 21-17
No. 2: Lan Nguyen/Annie Shurtz (TUL) def. Veronica Corcoran/Victoria Corcoran (UNO) – 21-13, 21-17
No. 3: Tarin Mergener/Madeline Mertz (TUL) def. Brook Frank/Rachel Kuhn (UNO) – 21-15, 21-8
No. 4: Briana Correa/Hannah Holmes (TUL) def. Lauren Levy/Samantha Uline (UNO) – 21-19, 21-13
No. 5: Christina McAfee/Sarah Strasner (TUL) def. Madison Miller/Rhyan Rand (UNO) – 21-19, 21-16

COACH VAN NORDEN’S QUOTES FOLLOWING THE NEW ORLEANS INVITATIONAL

On how her team played throughout the day
“Overall, I didn’t think it was that bad. Obviously we didn’t win as we had planned, but we had some people push to a third set. This morning, Rhyan and Maddi played well all the way to 19 and couldn’t close out. Rachel and Brook won in a third set, and Cara and Blessing both pushed to a third set. The play overall was more competitive and more strategic, but it was not good enough for us to get to 21 before the other team was.”

On the upcoming graduation of senior student-athletes Brook Frank, Lauren Levy and Courtney Roblez
“They were here the very first year we started beach volleyball when our entire indoor team had to come out and play beach. It was pretty rough that first season, but they were a part of it and they toughed it out. They knew things would be difficult, but that would be temporary. We were a new, young program and figured that we would learn and grow with every opportunity that we had to compete. Where we started and where we are now is a huge difference, and they were an integral part of that. It’s bitter sweet to see them go now that we’re trending on the way up and we have some more (beach) exclusive players in our program. I told them that one, two or three years from now, they’ll look back on this and know that they were a big part of starting this and be proud of how successful we will be at that time.”

On the progress the program has made since 2015
“We try not to gauge it off of wins and losses because a lot of the teams in this region are ranked in the Top 15 or Top 20 in the country. We do know that how we’re playing is a lot different. We’ve increased our win/loss record each year, which is always important, but we think about how we’re playing. In that first season and even in some of that second season, we weren’t playing third sets in any or the pairings or any of the flights. Now, we’re competing most of the time. Now, it’s about taking the next step forward, being more mature in how we approach all of our competitions and having the skill set, consistency, control and poise to finish people off. As we prepare to go into next year, we’re right where we need to be in terms of progress.”

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Richie Weaver

Richie Weaver

Director of Athletic Media Relations, University of New Orleans

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