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Volleyball: Efficient Attack Leads Cajuns Past SLU in Homestand Opener

LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Volleyball was led by the trio of Nia Antoine, Stacey Reilly and Chanelle Gardner, who each posted eight or more kills, and the squad hit a season-high .378 in recording a 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-14) win over Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday at Earl K. Long Gym.


The match marked the final non-conference outing of the season for Louisiana. It was also the start of a four-match homestand which runs through Sunday, Oct. 16.


The Ragin’ Cajuns hit .320 or higher in all three sets including a .400-plus percentage in the first and third set. SLU’s lone threat came in the middle frame when the set was tied at 17-all. Louisiana ended the set on an 8-1 run to open a 2-0 lead in the match.


Louisiana (6-13, 2-2 Sun Belt) resumes its four-match homestand on Saturday, and returns to Sun Belt Conference play, hosting ULM (8-14, 2-2 Sun Belt). First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.


Gardner’s eight kills pushed her past 900 career kills. At 903 career kills, she becomes only the third player in the rally scoring era (2001-present) to reach the 900-mark joining Lesley Mirarchi (953) and Elizabeth Inman (927).


Reilly finished with nine kills to increase her season total to 257 which surpasses her previous single-season best total of 250 set as a freshman in 2014.


Antoine finished with a match-high 10 kills on just 13 swings. The Acadiana High product ended the night with a career-best .692 hitting percentage.


Louisiana served up nine aces, led by three apiece from Antoine and Sydney Davis. The Ragin’ Cajuns threw up 10 blocks with Gardner’s five (1 BS, 4 BA) leading the charge. The squad posted 35 kills needing only twice as many attack attempts (74) to accrue the figure.


The Lions (2-14) were led by nine kills from Chloee Holden and eight from Madi Odom. Libero Monica Ramon led all players in the match with nine digs.


The Ragin’ Cajuns, who opened a 5-1 lead in the opening set, put the visitors away midway through the frame. After a SLU service error, back-to-back aces served up by Davis and a Katherine Young kill capped off a 4-1 run which opened a 19-13 edge.


The Lions later cut the deficit to 22-19, but Louisiana finished strong with two kills from Gardner and a Reilly ace to capture the set.


The Ragin’ Cajuns, who trailed 13-10 in the second set, erased their final deficit with a 6-0 run. After SLU knotted the score at 17-all, Gardner threw down a kill to regain the lead. After a ball handling error by SLU’s Elyssa Purcell, back-to-back kills by Chloe Cordell and a Reilly ace extended the Louisiana lead to 22-17.


Louisiana raced out to a 13-4 lead in the third set and never looked back. The Ragin’ Cajuns produced 11 kills, against no errors, on 27 attack attempts to surge past the Lions in a 25-14 win which clinched the sweep.


With the win, the Ragin’ Cajuns increased their series win streak over Southeastern Louisiana to four matches, having lost only two sets during the streak. Louisiana improved to 4-1 vs. SLU in the Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot tenure, and defeated the Lions for the sixth time in the past eight meetings (2000-present).


The Ragin’ Cajuns and Lions met at Earl K. Long Gym for the first time since September 2010. Each of the last four matchups at E.K. Long Gym (1999, 2006, 2010, 2015) have been straight set sweeps in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ favor.