USM drops final regular season games
Southern Miss failed to get wins at home against University of Alabama-Birmingham (8-23) and on the road against Charlotte (17-16), ending the season 20-13 overall and 9-7 in Conference USA.
The Golden Eagles and Blazers were neck-and-neck in nearly every statistical category, and in the three sets they lost, it was by a margin of no more than three points. There were 19 ties and eight lead changes for the match.
In the first set, both teams went back and forth in scoring. At one point, Southern Miss led 21-17, but the Blazers went on a huge offensive surge to come back in the set, winning 27-25.
In the second set, Southern Miss jumped out to an early 8-3 lead before UAB went on a 7-4 run, cutting the Golden Eagles’ lead to 12-10. However, Southern Miss would go on to dominate the remainder of the set, winning 25-19.
Both teams scored right after each other to open the third set. Midway through the set, the Blazers led 14-10 before the Golden Eagles cut the lead to 17-16. From there, UAB controlled the remainder of the set, holding off Southern Miss to win 25-22.
In the fourth set, it was all Southern Miss as the Golden Eagles never trailed, winning the set 25-18 and forcing a fifth set in the match.
The Blazers jumped out to an early 5-1 advantage in the fifth set, but the Golden Eagles fought back and tied the set at 8-8. However, the Blazers went on a 7-4 run to end the match and win the set 15-12.
Having four players finish with double figures in kills helped UAB win the game. Sophomore Gabby Deshotel led the Blazers with 19 kills, followed by Bethanie Thomas with 14 while Kiriana Hirini and Sarah Rishell recorded 11 and 10 apiece.
In the first set against Charlotte, the two teams were evenly matched in the set. Tied at 9-9, the 49ers went on a 6-3 run to take a close 15-12 lead before Southern Miss took a timeout. Following the timeout, Charlotte scored five of the next nine points, making the score 19-17. Then, Charlotte went on a 6-3 run to win the set 25-20.
The Golden Eagles held much of the momentum in the second set. Southern Miss led 19-13 before a Charlotte timeout. From there, the two teams traded points before Southern Miss went on to control the remainder of the set, winning 25-21.
After being tied 11-11 in the second set, the Golden Eagles scored three more points before going on a 11-4 run to win the set 25-15 in commanding fashion.
The fourth set featured 13 ties and seven lead changes. The teams scored back-to-back early on in the set. However, after a Southern Miss kill and error, Charlotte took the lead. From there, the 49ers took a small 22-19 lead. Although the Lady Eagles cut the lead to 23-22, it was not enough as Charlotte won the set 25-23.
In the fifth set, Southern Miss took an early 6-1 advantage before Charlotte came crawling back into the game and taking the lead 8-6. From there, the 49ers held the momentum for the remainder of the match, winning the set 15-9.
For the game, the Golden Eagles recorded a better hitting percentage than Charlotte, posting a .255 to .211, 65 digs and nine team blocks. Charlotte had 70 digs and eight team blocks.
For Southern Miss, Stephany Purdue led the team in kills, 25, followed by Quinci Hayward with 10. Hayward became the 16th player in Southern Miss history to record over 1,000 kills in a career. Mary Pursell posted 28 digs and Kristen Fleming recorded
For Charlotte, Claire Kreuz led the team with 20 kills and 13 digs, followed by Irem Asci with 12 kills and 11 digs and Savannah Gaster with 10. Morgan Barker finished with 23 digs.
For the first time since 1985, Southern Miss will host the 2014 Conference USA Volleyball Championship.
The sixth-seeded Golden Eagles square off against third-seeded North Texas at 7 p.m.