Southern Miss (16-5, 3-1) kept their historic season on track by dispatching the UAB Blazers (7-13, 0-6), 3-1 on Sunday.
Junior Stephany Purdue cruised to history as she recorded her 1,000th career kill in the win. She finished the match with 17 kills, en route to leading the Golden Eagles in dismantling the Blazers for UAB’s 13th loss on the season.
In the first set, the Blazers and Golden Eagles battled heavily until the closing moments. Both teams held tightly at nine points at one point, when the Golden Eagles took over. The Blazers just could not manage to get out of their own way, with countless attack and service errors, killing their own momentum. It took a 5-4 run, capitalized by Rachel Johnson’s kill to end the set, 25-19.
In the second set, USM was looking to put UAB in a hole. The Blazers held a tie with the Golden Eagles late into the match, tied at 19. Started with a Sydney Nelson kill, the Blazers infused the game with an energy that the Golden Eagles just could not match. A 6-2 run by UAB, put the match even at 1-1.
The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 7-3 lead to start the third set, in which Purdue scored four straight points. That lead evaporated, as UAB raced to even the set at 11. Purdue and Kylie Grandy individually went runs of their own to pace the Golden Eagles into winning the set, 25-20.
The fourth set was a statement set for the Golden Eagles, as they only trailed once at 6-5. The rest of the set, the Golden Eagles flexed their muscles to down the UAB Blazers in Reed Green. Although the Blazers fought to keep the game close at times, the effort was not enough as the Golden Eagles trailed to a 25-22 match-clinching win.
Grandy and Mary Pursell put a defensive stamp on the game, digging for 24 and 23 balls respectively. Also, USM outscored the Blazers in the blocks, 18-10. As a team, the Golden Eagles cut it close in the sets, but capitalized when it mattered most.
The Golden Eagles are off to their hottest start in recent memory, jumping out to 3-1 in Conference USA action. They will play three of their next four games at home, where they have compiled a 6-1 record on the season.
Middle Tennessee will travel to play Southern Miss on Friday at 6 p.m.