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Volleyball: Sweeping Success for Louisiana Volleyball to Begin the Kristi Gray Era
Ragin’ Cajuns claim the critical moments each set to turn away Southern Illinois
vs. USC Upstate
8/27/2021 | 5:30 p.m.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – It was a successful start to the Kristi Gray era of Louisiana Volleyball as the Ragin' Cajuns collected a straight sets sweep (25-17, 25-23, 25-21) of Southern Illinois on Friday at the Southern Miss Classic.
Louisiana (1-0) used key spurts of offense at opportune moments in each set to hold the Salukis (0-1) in check throughout the match, starting with a 6-0 run in the opening stanza to vault ahead 17-12 and capture the momentum that led to an early match advantage.
Trailing 20-19 in the second set it was three kills in succession from Coco Gillett, Kelsey Bennett and Kara Barnes that prevented SIU from flipping the script. Moments later Bennett went cross court for a score that snapped a 22-all tie, then Hannah Ramirez aced the Salukis for a critical two-point edge.
The Ragin' Cajuns seized the third set when back-to-back kills from Gillett, the latter out of a timeout, stretched the lead to 21-18.
Louisiana held a 42-32 advantage in kills, out-hit the Salukis .275-.167 and powered home 31 kills combined over the final two sets to seal the victory. The Ragin' Cajuns recorded five services aces in the match, each one seemingly at a critical juncture.
The contest marked the official debut as Louisiana's head coach for Gray, who was hired on April 26, 2021 after five highly successful seasons at Odessa College.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Bennett produced a match-high 10 kills off 26 attempts and a .346 hitting percentage. Fellow outside hitter Gillett scored nine kills of her own in her Ragin' Cajuns debut.
Louisiana's middle blocker duo of Barnes (7 K, 2 E, 11 TA) and Cami Hicks (8 K, 0 E, 12 TA) was nearly unstoppable, combining for 15 kills on just 23 swings and committing only two miscues.
Ramirez served up a match-best three aces and scooped 15 digs to stretch of streak of consecutive matches in double figures to 37 straight dating back to Oct. 2019. Bennett was a close second with 12 digs which resulted in her first double-double of the season.
Siena DeCambra handled the setter duties as a new season began and wound up passing out 33 assists.
Louisiana wraps up Day 1 at the Southern Miss Classic with a 5:30 p.m. match vs. USC Upstate from the Wellness Center on the USM campus.
The match is being streamed on C-USA.tv (subscription fees apply) while live stats are available through the link on the Volleyball schedule page at RaginCajuns.com.
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