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Volleyball: Ragin’ Cajuns Stay the Course, Sweep Red Wolves for Series Win
Bounce back on offense lifts Louisiana past Arkansas State in highly contested sets
LAFAYETTE – With a consistent flow of offensive production throughout the match the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball team was able to overcome Arkansas State in a see-saw affair and claim a 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-20) win on Saturday at Earl K. Long Gym.
Louisiana (13-4, 7-4 Sun Belt) produced at least 15 kills and recorded a 60-plus percent sideout rate in each set to close out the Red Wolves (6-5, 6-5 Sun Belt) each time and land a crucial Sun Belt Conference victory. The Ragin' Cajuns claimed the series win, taking the head-to-head tiebreaker with ASU, and returned to sole possession of third place in the SBC West Division.
The Ragin' Cajuns held a 49-36 advantage in kills and posted an extremely effective .242 hitting percentage, proving to be the difference in a contest that featured 35 ties and eight lead changes.
Each stanza wouldn't be decided until the waning moments as the Red Wolves were within no less than two points each time that Louisiana reached the 20-point mark.
Louisiana gained breathing room for the all-important first set triumph after an ace from Hannah Ramirez followed by a block from Kara Barnes and Kelsey Bennett created a 21-18 lead. A few plays later it was back-to-back kills by Bennett that stretched the lead to 24-19.
Twice the Ragin' Cajuns recovered from early three-point deficits in the second set to keep the Red Wolves from establishing control. After several ties ASU grabbed a 22-21 lead, however Louisiana wouldn't be denied as Lauren Tishkoff scored a kill for a critical sideout to forge another tie. Barnes and Bennett then teamed up for consecutive blocks that created the deciding difference.
Leading 12-7 in the third set the Ragin' Cajuns appeared headed for an easy finish until the Red Wolves battled back to force a 19-all tie. Louisiana wouldn't relinquish its advantage as freshman Cami Hicks stepped up and delivered a block solo to reclaim the lead. Tishkoff provided the finishing touches with a kill and a block for a 24-20 edge.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Bennett notched her ninth outing of double-digit kills (eighth in SBC play) with 15 kills on a .293 hitting percentage. The junior outside hitter also rounded up 12 digs and recorded four blocks.
Tishkoff was the other Ragin' Cajun to hit double figures with 11 kills off 30 swings a .200 hitting percentage. The freshman outside hitter produced double figures for the second straight match.
The duo was supported by eight kills apiece from Barnes and Hali Wisnoskie, plus six scores from Hicks.
Barnes had a team-best five blocks, hitting the mark for the fourth time this season and pushing her overall season total to 54 blocks. Hicks had four blocks for the second time in the series, matching a season-high total that's been recorded four times.
The Ragin' Cajuns out-dug the Red Wolves once again finishing with a 65-57 advantage. Libero Hannah Ramirez claimed match-high honors with 21 digs to extend her streak of consecutive matches in double digits to 29 straight (since last Oct. 11).
Milayne Danna scooped 10 digs for a third straight outing in double digits, and Avery Breaux just missed a third consecutive double-double as she finished with 40 assists and nine digs.
It will be the final home matches of the 2020 season Friday-Saturday, Oct. 30-31 when Louisiana welcomes Sun Belt travel partner ULM to Earl K. Long Gym. The two-match series with the Warhawks will air on ESPN.
It's also the conclusion of a home-and-home series between the two teams. The Ragin' Cajuns claimed a two-match sweep in Monroe earlier this month (Oct. 2-3).
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