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Volleyball: Cajuns Take Thriller from ASU, Remain Unbeaten in SBC
LAFAYETTE – With a 3-2 (25-20, 13-25, 24-26, 28-26, 15-11) win over Arkansas State Friday evening at Earl K. Long Gym the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball team is off to the program's first-ever 3-0 start in the Sun Belt Conference era.
It's the best conference start for the program since the 1986 team opened Southland Conference play 4-0.
Louisiana (9-7, 3-0 Sun Belt) rallied from a 24-21 deficit to claim the fourth set and force the winner-take-all where the squad out-hit Arkansas State (8-8, 1-2 Sun Belt) .375-.242 in clinching the match victory.
In front of an intense near-capacity crowd of 859 the two teams battled in a heart-stopping affair. There were a combined 139 kills (70-69 in ASU's favor) and both teams scooped over 100 digs.
The Ragin' Cajuns stretched their home-court win streak at EKL to four matches and remained one of three Sun Belt teams undefeated in the early stages of conference play.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Five players tallied double digits in kills led by Stacey Reilly's 15 which marked her team-leading 12th match of double figures. Dree'Ana Abram notched a career-high 14 kills, Hali Wisnoskie furnished 13 kills, Nia Antoine chipped in 12 kills and Hanna Rovira added 10 kills.
In addition to hitting a solid .226, Rovira was clutch in key blocking situations and finished with a match-high five blocks (4 BS, 1 BA). Abram and Wisnoskie each posted four blocks in leading Louisiana to an 11-8 edge in the category.
Jessica Bartczysyzn handed out 54 assists and Sydney Davis tied her season-high with 27 digs. The invaluable back row efforts from freshmen Lexi Hebert and Avery Breaux continued, as they collected 16 and 14 digs, respectively.
The Ragin' Cajuns wrap up the weekend conference homestand with a match against Little Rock (5-10, 1-2 Sun Belt) on Saturday at Earl K. Long Gym. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to wear black.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- In the first set, Louisiana stormed out to a 4-0 lead and withstood an answer from the Red Wolves. ASU rallied and led 11-9, but the Ragin' Cajuns drew even at 11-all and used kills from Abram and Wisnoskie to take the lead for good at 13-11.
Louisiana's final push came when an Abram kill and back-to-back blocks extended the lead to 24-19.
- ASU came out blazing in the second set and finished with a .483 hitting percentage in the frame to even the match.
- With the match lead on the line in the third set, the Ragin' Cajuns drew a 24-all tie following a block by Wisnoskie and Abram. However, a miscue by Wisnoskie and kill from Kenzie Fields after both teams scrambed during the ensuing rally gave ASU the 26-24 win and a 2-1 match lead.
- The lead swapped hands five times in the fourth set and Louisiana had a dramatic rally with their backs against the wall. Trailing 24-21, a service error handed the ball to the Cajuns who after an Hebert ace and ASU attack error pulled into a tie.
Knotted at 26-all, Wisnoskie landed a kill to give Louisiana its final lead of the frame. Set point came on the next rally when Timber Terrell swung and hit a ball out of bounds.
- Neither team broke away from the other in the fifth set until the Ragin' Cajuns forged ahead 8-6 after kills by Antoine and Reilly. The hosts were finally able to get a three-point edge when Fields committed an attack error which gave Louisiana a 13-10 lead.
- On the night she surpassed 900 career kills, it was fitting that Stacey Reilly secured match point with a kill. The Houston native now owns 904 kills and is inching ever closer to a 1,000-1,000 career (picked up 1,000th in Chicago).
- Hanna Rovira's 10 kills marked a season-high for the St. Joseph's Academy product, while the five blocks established a new career-high figure.
- Jessica Bartczyszyn averaged 10-plus assists per set for the fourth straight match. She reached 50 assists for the third time this season (57 vs. Jacksonville State, 50 at Chicago State).
- Dree'Ana Abram continued her hot hitting which started last weekend on the Sun Belt-opening road trip in Georgia. By hitting .355 tonight (14 K, 3 E, 31 TA), she hit above .300 for the third straight outing to open conference play.
- Sydney Davis matched her season-high digs total of 27 recorded at Chicago State. She piled up 20-pus for the fourth time this season and has now been in double digits in 14 of 16 matches.
- Sydney Davis is now 25 digs shy of reaching 300 in a season for the third time in her career (376 in 2015 as a freshman; 508 in 2016 as a sophomore).
- The win snapped a six-match losing streak in the series with Arkansas State. Louisiana defeated the Red Wolves for the first time since 2013.
- Louisiana's 102 digs were just shy of the rally scoring era record 109 recorded against WKU on Nov. 2, 2001.
- Head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot picked up her 128th win as Ragin' Cajuns head coach. She's now eight (8) 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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