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Volleyball: Ragin’ Cajuns Pass First Road Test of Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Slate
Behind 20-plus kill effort from Kelsey Bennett, Louisiana tops UT Arlington in five sets
at Texas State
10/2/2021 | 6:00 p.m.
ARLINGTON, Texas – An extra set and extra points ended in favor of Louisiana Volleyball on Friday at the College Park Center as the visiting Ragin' Cajuns captured a 3-2 (16-25, 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 17-15) win over UT Arlington.
Louisiana (7-4, 2-1 Sun Belt) quickly put aside a narrow miss at finishing the match in four sets by racing out to an 8-4 lead in the winner-take-all frame. Service aces from Cami Hicks and Jordan Valley sparked the quick start that ultimately led to the Ragin' Cajuns halting their five-set misfortune.
Not even a rally by the Mavericks (2-10, 0-3 Sun Belt), who would later pull ahead 12-10, would deter Louisiana from opening its first Sun Belt road trip of the season with a victory.
The Ragin' Cajuns bounced back and moved to match point at 14-13 following a block solo from Kara Barnes. UTA managed to extend the match twice before Kelsey Bennett finished the hosts off with the final two of her match-high 21 kills.
Bennett's exclamation points on the triumph ended the Ragin' Cajuns frustration of coming up empty handed on the previous four instances of five-set matches. Louisiana defeated UTA for the sixth time in the last seven matchups at the College Park Center.
A 7-1 advantage in aces from the service line plus a 13-11 edge in blocks carried the Ragin' Cajuns despite the Mavericks having more kills (64-60) and a higher hitting percentage (.205-.168).
After trading one-sided results in the opening two sets, it was another sizzling start by Louisiana in the third set that set the tone for the visitors taking the match lead.
The Ragin' Cajuns raced out to a 5-1 advantage in the third stanza and never trailed. The Mavericks pulled within two points late, at 19-17, but a service error followed by back-to-back kills of an overpass by Bennett provided Louisiana with a comfortable edge at 22-17.
A pair of Mavericks miscues led to a 20-18 lead for the Ragin' Cajuns in the fourth set and it appeared to be the final momentum shift in a set that featured eight ties and three prior lead changes. Kills from Coco Gillett and Bennett upped the margin to 22-19, however the hosts closed with a 6-1 run to change course and extend the match.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
For Bennett, the 21 kills marked her fifth 20-plus effort of the season and second straight match reaching the mark (24 kills vs. Georgia Southern). She added 21 digs for her team-leading eighth double-double.
Bennett joined Hicks and Valley in leading the team with two service aces. It was the third time in the past four outings that Bennett had delivered multiple aces.
Gillett was the other heavy load bearer on offense for the Ragin' Cajuns, scoring five on her 14 kills in the fifth set alone.
Hicks was Louisiana's leader on the front line with seven blocks (1 BS, 6 BA). Barnes and Bennett each threw up five blocks.
Lianne Sonneveld made her Division I debut in the second set, netting four of her five kills in the contest to help provide a boost and change the Ragin' Cajuns fortunes after a slow start.
Hannah Ramirez totaled a team-high 24 digs and setter Siena DeCambra turned in a double-double of 28 assists and 13 digs. DeCambra snuck in a dump kill with Louisiana ahead 6-4 in the fifth set, a key factor in the squad stretching out the early lead.
Louisiana makes the drive south on Interstate 35 to San Marcos, Texas for a Sun Belt West Division showdown with Texas State (6-10, 2-1 Sun Belt) on Saturday (Oct. 2) at Strahan Arena.
First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CDT). The match is being streamed live on ESPN and live stats can be accessed at CajunStats.com.
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