The Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi hosted to the Lady Owls of Florida Atlantic on Sunday, losing a hard-fought five set match.
In an evenly contested first set, the Lady Owls put together 15 kills and limited themselves to two errors, taking the opening set 25-20.
Costly errors hindered Southern Miss throughout the second set, as the Golden Eagles blew a five to one advantage, their largest lead of the set. A net violation and unforced errors opened the door for the Owls, as they took advantage of nine kills by FAU’s Gabrielle Dixon and took a two sets to none lead into the break.
The Golden eagles found their legs coming out of the break, gaining the lead and never giving it back. USM held a 13 to six lead before FAU battled back, cutting the Golden Eagle lead to four, at 16 to 12. FAU would add four more points, but Kylie Grandy’s tenth and final kill of the third frame slammed the door on the Lady Owls, giving Southern Miss the set 25 to 16.
Head Coach Amanda Berkley was proud of her team’s ability to fight back, and not give in when the pressure of being down two sets to none began to mount.
“I was really proud of our team for coming back,” Berkley said. “Down zero to two and making it a game. We didn’t give up.”
Errors plagued Southern Miss throughout the fourth set, with the Lady Owls holding the lead, until another Kylie Grandy kill would nod things up at 14. USM gained the lead with the score at 17 apiece, when a net violation gave the Lady Eagles the 18 to 17 advantage.
An emphatic Catherine Repsher kill forced a timeout by FAU and gave USM a 21 to 18 lead, and a noticeable surge of momentum. Seven points later, Grandy would power another kill, her twenty-first of the match, down the beak of the Owls, forcing a decisive fifth set.
“When we get kills, it definitely builds momentum,” Repsher said. “We feed off each other with the intensity, and the energy that we bring when we come together. Once you get a kill, it all comes together.”
Unfortunately, for the Golden Eagle faithful,Florida Atlantic found their second wind in the fifth frame, closing out the Lady Eagles 15 to 10, for a three sets to two victory.
“I think we learned we need to pass and play better defense,” Berkley explained. “Every point matters.”
Southern Miss falls to 13-7 overall, and 4-4 in conference, while FAU improves to 15-9 overall, with a conference record of 5-3. Southern Miss travels to Charlotte on Friday at 5 p.m.