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Volleyball: Antoine-Led Cajuns Collect Win in Sun Belt Opener
STATESBORO, Ga. – The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball team started Sun Belt-opening weekend with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16) win over Georgia Southern at Hanner Fieldhouse.
Louisiana (7-7, 1-0 Sun Belt) prevented Georgia Southern (2-8, 0-1 Sun Belt) from stringing together scoring runs over the first two sets, posting a 76 percent success on sideout opportunities, in taking a commanding lead in the match.
After the Eagles forced a fourth set, the Ragin' Cajuns closed the final frame with a 15-5 run to avoid the winner-take-all scenario. Louisiana collected 14 kills off 31 swings and hit .387 in closing out the Eagles.
Louisiana finished with a .264 hitting percentage, hitting above .200 for the fourth time in the past five outings. The squad held a 61-48 edge in kills and averaged over 14 per set in a four-set match for the third straight time.
The Ragin' Cajuns won their Sun Belt Conference opener for the second straight year. The program is off a 1-0 start in league play in consecutive years for the first time since 1997-98.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Nia Antoine led the way with a career-high tying 18 kills on a .536 percentage and five total blocks (1 BS, 4 BA). Hali Wisnoskie and Stacey Reilly also delivered double digits in kills, with 13 and 10, respectively.
Dree'Ana Abram delivered in all facets of the match, tallying nine kills, two aces and two blocks. Setter Jessica Bartczyszyn chipped in five kills and seven digs to go along with 48 assists.
Reilly scooped a team-best 16 digs for her seventh double-double of the season. Sydney Davis (14), Lexi Hebert (14) and Avery Breaux (10) also reached double digits in digs.
Louisiana closes out Sun Belt-opening weekend, and a three-week long road trip, on Saturday in Atlanta facing Georgia State. First serve from the GSU Sports Arena is set for 5 p.m. (CDT).
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Both squads' ability to collect sideouts kept the opening set close until the end. There were 15 ties through 17-all. The Cajuns high percentage on sideouts (84%) proved to be the difference in the end.
After a kill from Murray drew the Eagles within one at 19-18, Louisiana collected a sideout on a kill by Cordell and stretched the lead to 21-18 when Antoine landed the first of three kills she would collect down the stretch.
The Cajuns ability to prevent the Eagles from posting back-to-back tallies kept the hosts at bay after a kill by Reichard made it 22-19. Louisiana collected the sideout and started a string of three straight kills that clinched the set.
- Louisiana got off to a fast start in the second set, opening a 6-2 lead and later extending the margin to 12-6 off a Wisnsokie kill. After Georgia Southern closed the gap to 14-10, the Ragin' Cajuns put the set away after Reilly delivered the first pair of four consecutive kills that stretched the lead to 18-10.
- The Eagles found success in stringing together points in the third set and that enabled them to extend the match. The hosts' second 4-0 run of the stanza opened a 19-17 lead. Then after Louisiana forged a 19-all tie, the Eagles won the next three rallies on Cajuns miscues to have enough cushion to hold on in the end.
- The Ragin' Cajuns seized control of the fourth set with a 5-0 run that wiped out the Eagles' last lead (11-10). The run ended on a service error, but Antoine's 18th and final kill of the night secured a critical sideout, then consecutive GS mishits stretched the Louisiana lead to 18-12.
The Eagles had one last push, scoring four straight to trim their deficit to 19-16. After a bad set, the Ragin' Cajuns' final blow included five kills and an ace that spawned a 6-0 run which secured match point.
- Louisiana, making its second visit, picked up its first win at Hanner Fieldhouse. It was the first match between the two programs at the facility since Oct. 2015.
- Nia Antoine's 18 kills tied her career-high figure established last Oct. 23 at Appalachian State. The total pushed her over 400 kills in her career (currently has 413).
- With 14 digs, Sydney Davis upped her career total to 1,124 which moves her past Andrea Hole's 1,119 for the fourth-most recorded in the rally scoring era.
- Freshman Hali Wisnoskie reached double digits in kills for the fourth time in the past five matches and seventh time overall. At 140 kills, she's on pace to become the first freshman to hit 200 kills since Stacey Reilly in 2014.
- Stacey Reilly's 10 kills marked her team-leading 10th match with double digits and the 38th overall in her career. Reilly's career kills tally increased to 878 moving her within 22 of the 900-plateau.
- Louisiana won on the opposition's home court for the second straight time. The current streak began with a four-set win at Chicago State last Friday.
- Head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot picked up her 126th win as Ragin' Cajuns head coach. She's now 10 wins shy of tying Wilo Colon's program-record 136 victories.
FOLLOW THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
For more information on Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball, as well as all of Ragin' Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/ULVolleyball), Twitter (@RaginCajunsVB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsVB).
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