Volleyball: Cajuns Upend Mountaineers
LAFAYETTE, La. – The Ragin’ Cajuns rallied from a 2-1 deficit to take the final two sets of the match and hand league newcomer Appalachian State its first loss of the season, 3-2 (25-18, 17-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-9), on Friday at Earl K. Long Gym.
Louisiana (11-3, 1-3 SBC) and Appalachian State (13-1, 3-1 SBC) had entered league play last week as the only two unbeaten teams in non-conference play, but had very different starts to conference competition; however, the Ragin’ Cajuns put a definitive punctuation mark on its three-match skid, hitting .287 for the match, led by Kaylee Nemeth‘s 15 scores.
The Mountaineers, who were the fourth team out of the most recent AVCA Top 25 after their hot start, got 17 kills from Lauren Gray and hit a solid .228 for the match. But the Louisiana defense ramped up in the final two sets, holding ASU to just .121 hitting in the fourth and fifth sets.
Chanelle Gardner turned in one of her best matches of the season, hitting .419 with 14 kills and four blocks for the match, including five kills in the final set alone. Andrea Hole had season highs with 59 assists and 19 digs, while adding five well-timed kills from her setter position.
Abby Filce had 14 kills and a pair of blocks, while Sara Mossakowski finished with 12 kills and three digs for the match.
Louisiana finished with six more digs than the Mountaineers, putting four players in double figures, led by Caitlyn Auxilien‘s match-high 20. Stacey Reilly had 12 and six blocks, and Keely Hayes finished with 11 digs.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got six kills from Mossakowski and snapped out of a tie midway through the first set behind Auxilien’s serve to jump out to an early 1-0 lead with a solid 25-18 victory in Set 1.
But the Mountaineers responded, hitting .242 in the second set and getting half of their 14 kills from the duo of Gray and Emily Corrigan. Louisiana had pulled even at 9-9 on a kill from Stacey Reilly, but a Cajun service error sparked five quick ASU points. They would stretch the lead to as much as seven points, holding UL to its worst hitting set of the match in squaring the match at a set apiece.
Filce put home six kills in the third set, but the Ragin’ Cajuns found themselves too deep of a hole to dig out of, falling behind 20-13 before beginning to rally. UL scored six of the next seven points to claw back to within two points at 21-19, and although ASU managed to hold off the Cajuns 25-22, that rally proved to be a spark heading into the fourth set.
Louisiana was tied with ASU 14-14 in Set 4 before kills from Reilly, Nemeth and Filce highlighted a 4-1 spurt that finally put some distance between the Cajuns and the Mountaineers. The final of Filce’s four kills in the set pushed the lead to 20-16, and kills from Hole and Mossakowski set up a set-point try, one that was cashed in upon on the first opportunity when UL forced Corrigan into a set-clinching misfire.
The fifth set was all Cajuns almost from the start. UL never trailed in Set 5 and only found itself tied at the 1-1 point. Four of the first six Cajun points of the set came from kills from Gardner, and it was a solo block from Gardner that pushed the UL lead to 10-6. ASU got three late kills from Gray, including back-to-back scores to fight off the first two match-point tries by the Cajuns. But the third time was the charm as Hole found Nemeth on the right side for the match’s final point.
Louisiana will get a short turnaround before hitting the court again. The Ragin’ Cajuns will square off with another league newcomer – Georgia Southern – on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Earl K. Long Gym.