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Volleyball: Ragin' Cajuns Ride Defensive Wave to Sweep of App State
LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball team was driven by a dominant defensive performance in a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-19) win over Appalachian State on Friday at Earl K. Long Gym.
The Ragin' Cajuns (15-8, 8-1 Sun Belt) out-blocked the Mountaineers (7-16, 2-7 Sun Belt) by a 12-2 margin and forced the visitors into 27 total attack errors in the match.
Louisiana spread its offense around with six different players accounting for at least four kills. The squad had a 60-plus percent sideout rate in each set, finishing the match at 64 percent.
The Ragin' Cajuns set the tone with four blocks in the opening set win. Two key blocks after a 19-all tie in the second set – the first preventing the Mountaineers from taking the lead and the latter stretching the advantage to 23-20 – sent Louisiana to a 2-0 match lead. The finishing touch on the frontline dominance was a match-best five blocks in the final frame.
With the win, the Ragin' Cajuns maintained their lead in the Sun Belt Conference's West Division and extended their home court win streak to eight matches.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Hanna Rovira had a team-high seven kills off 14 swings. Dree'Ana Abram supplied six off 14 swings as well, Hali Wisnoskie landed five kills and the trio of Nia Antoine, Jessica Bartczyszyn and Stacey Reilly each tallied four kills.
Bartczyszyn turned in an all-around effort as she generated four kills, five digs and six blocks (2 BS, 4 BA) in addition to her 20 assists from her setting duties.
Louisiana's middle blocking tandem of Abram (three) and Antoine (five) combined for eight blocks in helping the team out-block the opposition for the ninth straight match and move over 200 total in a season for the first time since 2014.
Freshman Avery Breaux recorded a team-best 11 digs, marking the 10th double digit performance of her rookie season. Libero Sydney Davis joined her in double digits with 10 and Reilly provided an additional nine.
The Ragin' Cajuns continue their current four-match homestand, which marks the final stretch of matches at E.K. Long Gym this season, on Saturday facing defending Sun Belt Champion Coastal Carolina (11-7, 8-1 Sun Belt) in a 6:30 p.m. match.
Saturday's meeting with the Chanticleers is Girl Scout Night with all troops in the area invited to attend. There will be a poster competition for the chance to win an autographed volleyball and Ragin' Cajuns volleyballs will be tossed into the stands throughout the contest.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Louisiana won the match's first two rallies and never trailed in opening the early lead. Fittingly it was the Ragin' Cajuns block which snapped the final tie of the opening set, as Bartczysyn and Antoine teamed up for a stuff that ignited a 5-0 run for a 13-8 lead.
An ace drew App State within a point, 14-13, but Abram responded with a kill, an attack error kept the Cajuns run going and another kill from Abram coupled with a Wisnoskie block solo stretched the lead to 18-13.
- A 4-0 run moved the Mountaineers ahead 8-5 in the second set. After a timeout, the Ragin' Cajuns responded with a five-point spurt to jump ahead 10-8. App State claimed the next two rallies for a 10-all tie, then Louisiana landed kills on three of the next five rallies and led 14-11.
The visitors rebounded to pull into a 19-all tie and the Ragin' Cajuns defense stepped up with a tag team block from Antoine and Reilly to remain ahead. A kill by Jenna Talbert evened the score for App State, however an attack error started the downfall. After a timeout, Talbert committed back-to-back attack errors and a Davis ace increased the Louisiana lead to 24-20.
- Paced by five quick kills at the onset of the third set, the Mountaineers jumped out to a 7-2 lead. The Ragin' Cajuns stormed back and pulled even at 10-all following back-to-back blocks of which Bartczyszyn had a hand in.
App State rattled off three straight points to temporarily stretch the lead back out at 13-10. Louisiana turned to its offense first, getting kills from Antoine and Abram off overpasses and followed up by forcing the Mountaineers into two attack errors which provided a 14-13 lead. After the teams traded service errors, began to pull away starting with a block from Abram and Wisnoskie.
- Head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot picked up her 134th win as Ragin' Cajuns head coach. She's now two (2) wins shy of tying Wilo Colon's program-record 136 victories.
- Hanna Rovira's .500 hitting percentage (7 K, 0 E, 14 TA) marked the third time in the past five Sun Belt matches she's hit above .400.
- Hanna Rovira's seven kills upped her season total to 98 which matches her career-best total set last season. She's now two kills shy of the first 100-kill campaign of her collegiate career.
- Nia Antoine moved closer to the 500-kill mark of her career. The Lafayette native and Acadiana High will carry 496 career kills into Saturday's match vs. Coastal Carolina.
- Jessica Bartczyszyn's six blocks were a season-high total for the senior setter. She's now at 39 blocks for the season, leaving her one shy of equaling her career-best output (40 in 2016).
- Stacey Reilly moved her career kills total to 969 as she continues her quest to become only the second Ragin' Cajuns player in the rally scoring era (2001-present) to reach 1,000 career kills.
- Louisiana's .212 team hitting percentage marked the seventh time in nine Sun Belt Conference matches the team hit above .200.
- Louisiana's defense held Appalachian State to a .106 hitting percentage, the lowest total for the opposition since ULM hit .104 back on Oct. 6. The Ragin' Cajuns have limited foes to a sub-.200 percentage in seven of nine SBC outings.
- Louisiana improved to 9-2 at Earl K. Long Gym with Friday night's triumph. The squad has already locked up a winning mark on its home court, while they moved within one win of reaching double digits in facility for the first time since 2014 (11-4). The Ragin' Cajuns record at E.K. Long Gym under the guidance of Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot improved to 67-53 (.558).
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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