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Volleyball:Cajuns Hold Off Panthers In Five-Set Bout

LAFAYETTE, La. – Kaylee Nemeth led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 18 kills, including four in the deciding fifth set, as Louisiana withstood Georgia State, 3-2 (25-23, 28-26, 24-26, 23-25, 17-15), on Friday at Earl K. Long Gym.
The Cajuns (13-3, 3-3 SBC) and Panthers (3-11, 1-4 SBC) went toe-to-toe all night with neither side able to garner any breathing room throughout the night. Still, Louisiana’s balance proved to be just enough to even its record in conference play against a GSU team that also pushed UL to five sets at home a year ago.
Additionally, Caitlyn Auxilien pulled in 19 digs on the night, moving past Gina Calegari for fourth all-time at UL in digs and becoming only the fourth Ragin’ Cajun to ever surpass the 1,500-dig mark for her career.
Nemeth needed just 35 swings to pick up her team-high 18 kills, just one score shy of her season high of 19 set in the season’s opening weekend. She was joined in double figures by Sara Mossakowski and Abby Filce with 15 kills apiece, with Filce’s total setting a new career high.
The Cajuns hit .236 on the night, directed by Andrea Hole‘s 49 assists and 12 digs. Chanelle Gardner added eight kills and five blocks.
All of that was needed to turn back Georgia State’s two-headed tandem of Deidra Bohanon and Eliza Zachary who combined for 47 of GSU’s 66 kills on the night. Bohanon led all players with 25 kills on 51 swings, coupled with a team-best 15 digs.
UL’s biggest lead of the night came in the match’s first 12 points, staking itself to an 8-4 lead behind two of Nemeth’s four kills in the set. But the Panthers responded, as they would all night, taking their first lead at 14-13 on an ace from Sydney Mauer. From there the teams traded points with neither gaining more than a one-point lead until the end when the Cajuns tallied the final three points of the set, getting two kills from Mossakowski in that late-set push.
The second set saw the Panthers get out to their largest lead of the night, going on a 7-3 run to go ahead 15-8 midway through the frame. But a Panther service error gave the serve back to UL, who got an ace from Hole and three straight scores from Gardner to quickly cut the lead back to 15-13. The Cajuns finally pulled even at 21-21 when Gardner and Mossakowski turned back an attack from Andrea Book, and took the lead one point later on another Book error. Still, the teams found themselves knotted late in the set at 26-26 before UL scored the final two points on one of the Panther’s 16 service errors and Mossakowski’s fifth kill of the night to go up 2-0 at the half.
Neither team ever gained more than a three-point advantage in the third set, but the Panthers still had to fight off a late match-point try in the set despite hitting .296 in the stanza. UL got five kills from Filce in the third, including consecutive late kills that gave the Cajuns that match-point try at 24-23; however, the Panthers immediately went to Bohanon for the tying point to stay alive and stole the set by forcing consecutive Cajun attack errors to close it out.
GSU pushed it to a fifth set with a 25-23 win in Set 4, this time turning to Zachary for seven kills on 14 swings. The Cajuns outhit the Panthers .273-.195 in the set and held a late 21-19 lead, but GSU scored five of the next six points to get to a set-point try. Mossakowski fought off one of those tries, but Zachary’s 21st kill of the night finished UL off and forced a deciding set.
There the Cajuns turned to their seniors – Nemeth and Mossakowski – for eight of their nine kills in the abbreviated set. Bohanon answered with five scores for GSU, but the Cajuns held an edge in both aces and blocks. Kills from Gardner and Mossakowski forced a GSU timeout midway through the fifth, and the Cajun lead grew to 11-8 one play later after the pair turned away a Zachary attack. But the Panthers were not done, clawing back to force extra points for the third time in the match at 14-14 on a score from Bohanon. Nemeth and Bohanon then traded points and the Cajuns gained the advantage once again on a Panther misfire. One play later Hole found Mossakowski on the left side for the match-clinching kill.
The Cajuns will now trek to San Marcos, Texas, for a Saturday date with league leader Texas State. First serve is set for 1:00 p.m. from Strahan Coliseum.