USM opens conference play with win
The Southern Miss volleyball team opened up conference play with a 3-0 win over Louisiana Tech Monday night. The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Golden Eagles.
Led by junior Quinci Hayward, the Golden Eagles got off to a fast start against the Bulldogs, leading 7-2 early in the first set. The lead would vanish quickly though, as the Bulldogs climbed back to make it 9-8 before the Golden Eagles would take control for good. Using runs of 5-3 and 7-4 with a pair of kills by Hayward, USM took the first set, 25-16.
However, it was the Bulldogs who jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second set before Southern Miss went on a 10-1 run to put themselves in the driver’s seat with 10-4 lead. Louisiana Tech would battle back, similar to the first set, and trimmed the Golden Eagle lead to 17-16. The Golden Eagles needed a spark of life and got it in the form of Jasmine Crowell who tacked on six of her 10 kills in the second set to lead the Golden Eagles to the 25-19 set win.
The third set would be all Hayward and Crowell again. The duo dominated in the kills department, combining for 21 kills in the match, with eight in the third set. Errors plagued the Bulldogs with most errors resulting in several points for the Golden Eagles. The Bulldogs kept the third set closer than the rest, losing only 25-20, but the match still went down as a sweep.
The Golden Eagles finished with 42 kills on .293 hitting, three aces, 44 digs and 7 team blocks. Tech tallied 35 kills on .176 hitting, 33 digs and 4 team blocks.
The win improved the Golden Eagles to 12-6 on the year, the best record in Conference USA. The victory also put them atop the conference standings, alongside Florida Atlantic and UTSA. The Golden Eagles return home after the recent two-game road trip. Southern Miss hosts Rice (10-4) at 7 p.m. on Friday.