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Volleyball: Southern Miss Claims Five-Set Bout with Louisiana Volleyball
Ragin’ Cajuns go to the limit, narrowly missing out on departing Hattiesburg undefeated
vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
9/3/2021 | 11:00 a.m.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – A quick start was the theme in all three sets won for Southern Miss in a 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-9) win over Louisiana Volleyball in the finale of the Southern Miss Classic at the Wellness Center on the USM campus.
It was particularly advantageous for the Golden Eagles (4-0) in the winner-take-all frame when the hosts opened with an 8-3 spurt. Back-to-back Kelsey Bennett kills put the Ragin' Cajuns (3-1) on the comeback trail, eventually trimming the deficit to 9-8.
However, USM would collect a pair of timely side outs to stretch the lead back out at 11-8, then after a Cami Hicks kill pulled Louisiana closer again the Golden Eagles captured the final four rallies to claim the match.
The Golden Eagles took full advantage of a 4-0 start to the match to take the first set. The Ragin' Cajuns responded in the second set using a four-point spurt to take control at 9-5, then put away USM when Kara Barnes denied a dump kill opportunity for a 23-20 edge.
The first five points of the third set went to Southern Miss, but the Ragin' Cajuns stormed back pulling ahead at 14-12 following a kill from Barnes and back-to-back blocks from Hicks and Chinelo Ogogor. Another Louisiana rally, from a 23-20 deficit, sent the frame to extra points only to have the hosts claim the next two tallies.
The serve of Brianna Franklin opened a 5-2 lead for Louisiana early in the fourth set and the lead was preserved throughout. The Ragin' Cajuns were able to maintain distance down the stretch when Barnes tapped a kill over the USM defense for an 18-15 lead, then again later when Bennett slammed a kill down the line to make it 23-20.
The teams put on a show for the fans in attendance combining for 124 kills (63-61 in favor of USM), 21 blocks (13-8 in favor of Louisiana) and 174 digs (91-83 in favor of Louisiana).
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Bennett led all players in the match with a career-high 24 kills on a .310 hitting percentage. Hicks added 14 kills of her own to go along with a career-high seven blocks (2 BS, 5 BA).
Barnes was the third Ragin' Cajun to post double figures in kills as she landed 11 kills and also posted five blocks.
Hannah Ramirez totaled 25 digs with the first two moving her to the 1,000-dig mark as a Ragin' Cajun. It was the 40th consecutive match that she's reached double digits.
Bennett was a close second with 22 digs, resulting in her team-leading third double-double of the young season.
Franklin delivered three service aces to lead the charge as Louisiana totaled six in the match, marking the fourth time in as many matches on Opening Weekend with at least five aces. Ramirez picked up two aces to give her multiple aces in all four matches at the Southern Miss Classic.
Siena DeCambra handed out 55 assists to finish with 11-plus per set for the third time in the tournament.
Louisiana will be in Nacogdoches, Texas, from Friday-Saturday, Sept. 3-4 competing in a tournament hosted by Stephen F. Austin at Shelton Gym on the SFA campus.
The Ragin' Cajuns are scheduled to face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (11 a.m.) and Stephen F. Austin (6:30 p.m.) on the opening day of the tournament, then complete play on Saturday meeting Northern Arizona at 11 a.m.
The SFA event marks the first of back-to-back trips to the state of Texas, as the following week Louisiana ventures to Edinburg for the UTRGV Tournament (Sept. 9-11).
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