Golden Eagles split opening weekend of conference play
The Southern Miss volleyball team (10-7, 1-1 C-USA) opened conference play at home against North Texas, a team that was riding an 11-match win streak and a 12-1 record.
The Golden Eagles found themselves in a five-set match against the Mean Green that resulted in multiple career- highs for Southern Miss. Junior Sarah Bell set a career-high of 75 assists, junior Kylie Grandy and freshman Chandler Marshall each set career-highs in kills with 25 each and senior Natalie Druhan rounded out the night with a career-high of 27 digs.
“It was a team win tonight, just very gritty,” said Head Coach Amanda Berkley. “We had a lot of great performances, especially from our pin hitters in Kylie and Chandler. Both played outstanding I think Natalie had a great match for us defensively and Sarah just moved the ball well for us.”
In the first set, the Golden Eagles found themselves down 11-7 early. Southern Miss fought their way back forcing North Texas to deal with over nine lead changes and ties in the second half of the set resulting in a 26- 24 win for the Golden Eagles.
The second set was almost parallel to the first, but resulted with North Texas finishing on top 27-25.
The Golden Eagles tried to breakaway in the third set with a 25-20 win. Southern Miss jumped out to a 9-4 lead and never looked as the Golden Eagle offense found 17 kills in the set.
The Mean Green were far from quitting in the fourth set as they held off seven ties and two lead changes by Southern Miss to secure their 25-23 win.
In the fifth set, the Golden Eagles jumped out to an 11-8 lead. The Mean Green responded with a 4-0 run to give them a 12- 11 lead, but Southern Miss battled back to tie the set 13-13. A crucial ace and kill from Grandy helped the Golden Eagles hold off North Texas 15-13 and win the match.
Despite UTSA’s 2-10 record, the Roadrunners have played one of the toughest schedules in conference going up against nationally ranked Minnesota (No. 2) and Texas (No.6) along with facing other power five teams: TCU, West Virginia, Tennessee and Baylor. The Golden Eagles found themselves in another tough match but an underrated UTSA got the best of the Southern Miss.
In the first set, the Golden Eagles jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. From there, the Roadrunners and Golden Eagles tied the set nine times, but at 19- 19 UTSA broke away with 6-2 run to give them the set 25-21.
UTSA and Southern Miss continued to go back-and-forth in the second set. The Golden Eagles took a 9-6 lead, but four team errors helped propel the Roadrunners ahead at 10-9. From there, the set stayed within at least two points, but Southern Miss held on for the win with two back-to-back kills from junior Alexis Coombs.
UTSA regrouped and found momentum at 18-15 midway through the third set and went on an 8-3 run for a 25-18 win.
The Roadrunners still held onto the momentum early on, but the Golden Eagles never quit. UTSA jumped to a 12-5 lead. The Golden Eagles battled back to close the lead, 12-11, which was kickstarted by a kill from Marshall. However, the effort was not enough as UTSA closed the set with a 7-3 run to win both the set, 25-18, and the match.
The Golden Eagles continue conference play on the road against Marshall on Sept. 29.