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Volleyball: Georgia State’s Late Surge Flips Script on Louisiana in SBC Tourney Finale + photo gall
Teams battled through several momentum shifts in the final outing of the fall
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FOLEY, Ala. – Louisiana and Georgia State traded set victories – and several scoring runs – in a highly competitive match on the final day of pool play at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament before the Panthers reversed the trend in the winner-take-all frame to claim a 3-2 (10-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-20, 15-10) win at the Foley Events Center.
GSU (9-11) was able to turn the tide by being able to find the floor more often and efficiently in the final two sets. With a 30-11 edge in kills and a team hitting percentage of .328 down the stretch, the Panthers were able to slip away from the Ragin' Cajuns (17-7) in an afternoon full of momentum shifts.
Louisiana was in position to claim a win for the second time in as many outings in the SBC Tournament despite being without the services of six players, including key starters Avery Breaux and Kara Barnes and several reserves, due to COVID-19 related protocols, and three others due to injury.
The Ragin' Cajuns stormed out of the gate with their largest set victory of the season (25-10) spurned by a solid front wall at the net that posted five blocks. Four of those blocks, which feature the hands of Kelsey Bennett, Ya'Janae Patt and Lauren Tiskoff, bridged the gap from start-to-finish in a 9-0 run put Louisiana firmly in control at 22-8.
After GSU evened the match, it was the offense's turn to shine in the third set. Louisiana scored 15 kills off of 32 swings and hit .375 in running away to a 2-1 match lead. After both teams swapped lengthy scoring runs and Louisiana leading 13-12, it was Cami Hicks who stepped up to charge the Ragin' Cajuns' final push. Starting with a slide-out kill to allow her team to keep the lead, Hicks would score three key kills as the lead expanded out again to 18-13.
Seeking to wrap up the match in four, a pair of blocks from Hicks and Hali Wisnoskie ended a stretch where the Ragin' Cajuns sliced the Panthers' lead to 12-11. GSU got a much-needed kill on the next rally to retain the lead and eventually shook off Louisiana by stretching out a 17-15 lead with a pair of three-point runs.
Wisnoskie gave Louisiana a 7-6 lead in the fifth stanza, but the Panthers answered back with the first of six kills in the back half of the set that carried them to the finish line.
The match marked the final outing of the Fall 2020 season for both Louisiana and Georgia State, as Little Rock claimed victory against the two teams in previous days to claim Pool D and advance to the SBC Tournament semifinals.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Wisnoskie reached double digits in kills for the sixth straight match, 18th time in 24 outings this fall, and for the 74th time in her collegiate career with a team-leading 15 kills. The senior outside hitter posted 38 kills (4.2 per set) in the SBC Tournament.
With 13 kills and 13 digs, Bennett registered a double-double for the fifth straight outing. The junior outside hitter finishes with a team-high 13 double-doubles, all but one coming against Sun Belt Conference foes.
Bennett was a key catalyst in both of the Ragin' Cajuns set victories as she had a hand in three blocks in the dominant defensive effort in set one and with five kills in the third set combined with Wisnoskie for 10 total in the frame.
A pair of freshmen stole the show at the net as both Patt (7 blocks) and Hicks (6 blocks) posted season-high block totals. Combined the duo had a hand in seven of Louisiana's 15 team blocks.
Libero Hannah Ramirez put the finishing touches on a stellar senior season in which she scooped double digits in digs in all 24 matches by rounding up a match-high 24 digs. She stretched her streak of consecutive matches with double-digit digs to 36 straight (dates back to Oct. 11, 2019) and surpassed the 20-dig mark for the fifth straight match and 20th time overall as a Ragin' Cajun.
Competing for only the second time since Sept. 12, freshman setter Abby Lynn handed reached 40 assists once again. Lynn added 40 more to her SBC Tournament total, following up the 41 on Wednesday vs. Little Rock.
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