The Golden Eagles survived a five-set non-conference match against South Alabama, 3-2, improving to 14-5 and 6-1 at home.
Southern Miss tallied 68 kills, 79 digs and eight blocks. Junior Stephany Purdue recorded 25 kills and 10 digs, while seniors Mary Pursell and Shelby Russell added 23 digs and 18 digs. Freshman Sarah Bell registered 43 assists and 11 digs.
The first set went back-and- forth seeing nine ties until the Golden Eagles gained momentum and their first lead at 16-15. Southern Miss would extend the lead to 21- 17 following one of Purdue’s 25 kills. The Jaguars did not go down without a fight, narrowing the gap to 22-21, but the Golden Eagles buckled down and sealed the set with a block by senior Rachel Johnson and Bell, for the 25-22 win.
Southern Miss carried the momentum from the first set over into the second set as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The Golden Eagles gained a 12-11 lead, only to fall victim to an 8-1 run by South Alabama. The Golden Eagles withstood the raid of points to pull within two points at 21-19 when a Purdue kill forced the Jaguars to take a timeout. Following the timeout, a poised Jaguars team returned to the floor to win the set 25-20.
In the third set, South Alabama rode the wave of momentum from the previous set to a 4-1 lead. After a handful of USM points, the Jaguars extended their lead to 13-9. Southern Miss fought its way back to gain the lead at 22-21 after a pair of kills from Purdue. Once again following a timeout, the Jaguars returned a different team. The Jaguars returned to the floor strong and were able to close out the set 25-22.
In the fourth and potentially final set, Southern Miss came out on a mission, taking an early lead 10-7. The Golden Eagles hit a rough spot in the set and allowed the Jaguars to tie the set at 11-11. Following a Bell ace, the Golden Eagles extended their lead by three again at 17-14. The Jaguars fought to close the deficit to one point six more times. At 24-21 with the Golden Eagles leading, USA added another point to close the gap to 24-22. Purdue recorded her sixth kill of the set to give USM the 25-22 fourth- set win.
After forcing a fifth set, Southern Miss jumped out to an early 6-2 lead. After swapping sides of the net, the Jaguars tied the set at 8-8. Following the tie, the Golden Eagles would not look back, going on a 7-0 run to end the match. Purdue clinched the set and the match with her 25th kill of the night as Southern Miss won the set 15-8.
The Golden Eagles will return to action in a conference match against the Charlotte 49ers on Oct. 1 at Charlotte. First serve will be at 5 p.m.