The Golden Eagles conference play Sept. 23, beating North Texas 3-1.
Southern Miss pounded the ball offensively, totaling 63 kills and 62 digs compared to North Texas’ 45 kills and 47 digs. Stephany Purdue led the kill count with 17 kills. This put her at 1,455 kills for her career, making her 111 short of the all-time school record.
The performance of the night belonged to Kylie Grandy, who finished with a 12-kill and 12-dig performance on her 19th birthday.
The Golden Eagles asserted their dominance over the Mean Green early in the first set, by building leads of 8-3 and 9-4. However, the team would have some miscues after building an 11-5 lead. North Texas would battle back to within a one-point margin at 20-19. The Golden Eagles grinded a 25-22 win for the first set, stumbling over mistakes.
The second set continued with the Golden Eagles’ mistakes as the Mean Green picked up a win in the second at 25-19.
The Golden Eagles avenged the second set loss, capturing a 25-15 win in the third set. Katherine Still would tally five kills in this set. A combination of Still’s effort and several service errors by North Texas helped power the Southern Miss win.
The Golden Eagles jumped to a 17-14 lead in the fourth set. The Mean Green tied the match, forcing a Golden Eagle timeout, but the following play after the timeout put the Mean Green ahead.
After battling back to a 24-24 tie, Grandy topped her birthday night by putting the Golden Eagles ahead with a critical kill, 26-24.
“That was a really gritty win for us,” said Head Coach Amanda Berkley. “We had to fight and battle for this win. Overall it was a good win.”
On Sunday, the Golden Eagles dropped their second road game to UTSA.
UTSA came into Sunday as a team receiving votes for the collegiate Top 25 and leading the all-time series against Southern Miss 7-0.
UTSA played the Golden Eagles as a team that rightfully deserves to be recognized nationally. The Golden Eagles lost in a 3-0 match and dropped their first game in conference play.
Purdue had another solid performance, adding 16 more kills to her weekend, along with nine digs. Grandy also added performance with a 10-kill, nine-dig performance.
The Golden Eagles kept things close in every match, but dropped the first two sets at 25-20 and 25-21. Every time the Golden Eagles began to challenge the opponent, the Roadrunners countered.
In the first set, the Golden Eagles were down 23-20 after a 4-0 run. However, the Roadrunners took the first set with a service error, then a kill.
The second set had similar results. The Golden Eagles battled back and forth, keeping things tied at 20-20. However, a 5-1 run by UTSA killed momentum for Southern Miss in that set.
Despite being down 2-0, the Golden Eagles remained competitive until the very end in the final set.
Purdue and Grandy’s kills put pressure on a UTSA defense that tallied 48 digs by the end of the night. The Golden Eagles kept it tied at 24-24. But yet again, the Roadrunners clamped down and finished the set with a 26-24 win for the set and match.
The Golden Eagles outshot the Roadrunners in kills, 40-37. However the Roadrunner defense stole the win, having seven blocks along with the 48 digs.
“I wish we gave them more of a challenge,” Berkley said. “We have to keep the ball in play. We had too many errors as a team, and that’s something we have to fix in the future. I think we will learn from this and find a way to get better.”
The Golden Eagles will return home for the first time in a month to face Marshall on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.