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Volleyball: Third-Set Push Carries Louisiana Volleyball to Undefeated Opening Day

Momentum carried over to fourth set, putting away USC Upstate for a 2-0 day at Southern Miss Classic

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Louisiana Volleyball completed a 2-0 start on Opening Day of the 2021 season, and the Kristi Gray era, by claiming a hard-fought third set to reclaim the match lead over USC Upstate in a 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-14) win on Friday in the Southern Miss Classic.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (2-0) and Spartans (1-1) traded scoring runs, played through 12 ties and swapped the lead three times in the pivotal third frame of an even match.
The key momentum shift came with Louisiana trailing 14-10 and a Coco Gillett kill sparked a 7-2 run that was finished off by a Kelsey Bennett kill that provided a 17-16 lead.
From there it was a race to the finish line with six tied scores occurring, the last at 23-all. That’s when Kara Barnes slid over to the right side to end an extended rally with a kill and Siena DeCambra snuck in a dump kill on the next rally for the critical set point.
DeCambra kept the pressure on USC Upstate from the service line as she served out a 6-0 run, which included four service aces, to start off the fourth set. There was little doubt left in the outcome after the strong start, as the Spartans got no closer than six points the rest of the stanza and the Ragin’ Cajuns led by nine points of several occasions.
The win followed up a straight sets sweep (25-17, 25-23, 25-21) of Southern Illinois earlier in the afternoon and put the finishing touches on a perfect start to the Gray era.
For the second straight outing the Ragin’ Cajuns out-worked the opposition on an equal number of attack attempts holding a 57-49 edge in kills with each squad getting 165 chances. Louisiana once again posted a .200-plus hitting percentage (.242) and held the opposition below the mark (.152).
The DeCambra-led charge at the service line in the fourth set carried the Ragin’ Cajuns to nine total aces for the match which increased the day’s total to 14.
Bennett followed up a season-opening, double-double with another one consisting of 19 kills and 19 digs. Gillett scored 14 kills and Barnes landed 10 kills to account for the remaining bulk of the Louisiana offense.
DeCambra passed out 11-plus assists per set once again finishing with 45 assists. The Maui, Hawaii native scooped 16 digs to go along with the strong showing at the service line and her timely set-winning kill.
Hannah Ramirez rounded up a match-leading 23 digs in helping the Ragin’ Cajuns to an 84-80 advantage over the Spartans. It marked her 38th consecutive match reaching double figures in digs (dates back to Oct. 2019).
Cami Hicks posted a team-and match-leading five blocks (1 BS, 4 BA) and Chinelo Ogogor delivered well-placed kills tallying four off the five swings that she attempted.  
The first weekend of the 2021 season wraps up on Saturday when Louisiana returns to the Wellness Center on the USM campus for matchups with Mississippi Valley at 9:30 a.m. and host-Southern Miss at 5 p.m. in the tournament finale.
Both matches will be streamed on C-USA.tv (subscription fees apply) while live stats are available through the link on the Volleyball schedule page at RaginCajuns.com.
Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter (@RaginCajunsVB), Facebook (/RaginCajunsVB) or Instagram (@RaginCajunsVB) to stay up-to-date on all that is happening with Louisiana Volleyball.

– www.RaginCajuns.com –

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vs. Mississippi Valley

8/28/2021 | 9:30 a.m.