Volleyball: Rally Lifts Red Wolves Over Louisiana in Sun Belt Tournament Opener
SAN MARCOS, Texas – Building early leads each set, and hitting significantly higher than the previous two matchups, paid off for Arkansas State in a 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-12, 25-20, 15-7) win over Louisiana in the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Tournament opener at Strahan Arena. Louisiana (14-16) was able to overcome the early Red Wolves leads in the opening two sets by hitting .366, fueling the rallies and building a 2-0 lead in the match. Three key aces in the first set – the second from Milayne Danna which allowed Louisiana to keep the lead at 19-17 – solidified the first-set triumph. It the second set, it was the block combination of Celeste Darling and Tia Jade Smith which provided crucial tallies during the 16-7 set-ending run that completed another comeback. Arkansas State (17-12) was able to reverse course by generating 37 kills off a .326 hitting percentage the remainder of the match, thus allowing the quick starts each frame to hold up. The Red Wolves were able to stay one step – and avoid significant lead changes – after building a 10-5 lead in the third set, a 12-6 edge in the fourth set and scoring the first six points of the winner-take-all frame. ASU finished the match with a 70-56 advantage in kills, and more importantly hit .297 for the evening after hitting sub-.100 in each of the two regular season meetings. The season came to an end for Louisiana after a strong push of nine wins in the last 10 regular season matches carried the squad to a runner-up finish in the SBC West and its spot in the conference tournament. LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS Hali Wisnoskie produced double digits in kills for the 11th straight match, totaling 19 on a .269 percentage. She also contributed three assists, four blocks and 11 digs. Wisnoskie, who scored at least 15 kills for the eighth time during the strong finish to the season, increased her final season tally to 359. It's her personal single-season best mark and the most by a Cajun since Lesley Mirarchi had 364 kills in 2010. Kelsey Bennettjoined Wisnoskie in double figures with 14 kills on a team-leading .278 percentage. She too posted a double-double, and with 15 digs reached double digits for the eighth straight outing. In her final collegiate match, Dree'Ana Abram landed nine kills and served up three aces. Smith led all players with seven blocks, hitting the mark for the third time and pushing her sophomore season total to a career-best 97 total blocks. Darling had four blocks to go along with eight kills. Avery Breaux collected her team-best 15th double-double as she handed out 42 assists and scooped 16 digs. She closed the season with a career-best 928 assists and the first 300-dig output of her career (312 digs). Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year Hannah Ramirez reached 20 digs for the fifth time in November, and 10th time overall this season. Ramirez was tied for the match-lead with 25 digs.