The Golden Eagles came back from a 2 – 0 deficit to defeat conference foe Rice.
On Sunday, the Golden Eagles found themselves in a tough contest on senior night. Each team struggled for conference seeding, and at the same time, the Golden Eagles tried to end things right for their senior players.
The first set was a battle between the two conference opponents, which had 15 lead changes by the end of the set. The Golden Eagles opened the match with an ace from Kylie Grandy, who had one more ace and 16 kills by the end of the day. However, a combination of errors, wrong positioning and Rice’s ability to read the defensive scheme allowed Rice to walk away with a 25 – 22 win in the first set.
The second set fared no better for the Golden Eagles. Rice jumped out to an early lead, which kept the Golden Eagles from being able catch up and drop the set in a quick 25 – 15 loss.
However, despite being down 2 – 0 in the match, the Golden Eagles would not fade away.
The team kept the third set close, but at 10-9, Stephany Purdue broke the all-time record in kills with 1,577. In the second set, the Golden Eagles battled from behind and extended the set with Purdue, getting seven of her 20 total kills. This turned the tide of match, and the Golden Eagles snagged a 32 – 30 win, shifting the momentum for the Golden Eagles. The third proved pivotal for the Golden Eagles as the Rice team began to tire.
The fourth set stayed in favor with the Golden Eagles, despite being down early 10 – 6, but the momentum shift stayed with The Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagles thenwentonan8-0run,whichnot only gave them the lead but helped them force Rice into a game-five matchup, winning the fourth set, 25-20.
“I don’t think I have ever seen or played in a game like that ever in my life,” said senior setter Makareta Rademakers.
The fifth set stayed close, but the Golden Eagles managed to pull off the comeback win at 15 – 13. The win also gave Southern Miss their 20th win of the season and kept their hopes alive for clinching the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.
“That was a huge comeback, because that is a very talented team with Rice,” said Head Coach Amanda Berkley. “They passed really well so it was hard to get a run going because they were just insistent the whole time. I was just really proud of the team for coming back from [an] 0 – 2 [deficit] and really battled for the third and fourth set.”