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Louisiana Volleyball Sweeps App State, Advances to Sun Belt Quarterfinals
Balanced effort guides Ragin’ Cajuns to Friday’s 5 p.m. (CST) match vs. Coastal Carolina
FOLEY, Ala. – Louisiana Volleyball advanced to the quarterfinal round of the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Tournament with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 27-25) win over Appalachian State on Thursday (Nov. 18) in the Foley Events Center.
With the win, Louisiana (15-10) moves on to face Coastal Carolina (18-8) in the 5 p.m. (CST) quarterfinal match on Friday (Nov. 19) for a spot in Saturday's semifinal round. The match will be broadcast on ESPN.
The Ragin' Cajuns used a balanced attack of five players with at least six kills and averaged 15 kills per set in putting away the Mountaineers (7-22) to avenge a four-set loss from the Oct. 15 meeting in Boone, N.C.
Kara Barnes led the way with the most productive and efficient effort as she landed 11 kills off of only 15 swings and posted a .600 hitting percentage.
Outside hitters Kelsey Bennett and Coco Gillett each scored nine kills to combine for 18 tallies and right side hitters Chinelo Ogogor (seven kills) and Emery Judkins (six kills) combined for 13 additional kills.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Control of the match was either held firmly by Louisiana, or never far out of reach. The Ragin' Cajuns scored the first five points of the match and never trailed in claiming Set 1. The rest of the evening the largest deficit the squad would face was four points.
One of the four point deficits came at 9-5 in Set 2 before a 3-0 run placed Louisiana on track to eventually overcome the Mountaineers, taking a 15-14 lead off a combo block from Barnes and Gillett. Later it was a Jordan Valley ace that provided a 20-18 lead and separation that was maintained.
With 20 kills on a .304 percentage in Set 3 the Ragin' Cajuns were able to fight off another push from App State. Louisiana erased deficits of 19-17 and 22-20 with back-to-back kills, netting a third consecutive kill on the latter push to claim the advantage before the frame moved to extra points.
The Mountaineers delayed match point three times until Gillett and Bennett went back-to-back in landing kills that finished off the straight sets sweep.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NUMBERS
Louisiana hit .239 for the match, while App State hit .158. It was the 17th match with a .200-plus hitting percentage as the Ragin' Cajuns bounced back from a .147 showing during the regular-season ending weekend vs. UT Arlington and Texas State.
The Ragin' Cajuns balanced attack produced a 45-34 advantage in kills. Three players charted double-figure digs, led by 13 from Valley, leading Louisiana to a 52-44 advantage.
Gillett scored a match-high tying three aces as Louisiana claimed a 6-5 edge in the match. Siena DeCambra and Reka Kotorman were equally effective during their time in the 6-2 rotation, netting 16 and 15 assists, respectively.
For the second time in as many Sun Belt Tournament meetings, Louisiana posted a straight sets sweep of Appalachian State. The Ragin' Cajuns swept the Mountaineers in the 2017 SBC Tournament held in Jonesboro, Ark. – the program's last conference tournament win prior to Thursday night.
Head coach Kristi Gray was on the winning side in the opening match of her first Sun Belt Conference appearance leading the Louisiana Volleyball program.
Louisiana and Coastal Carolina meet on Friday (Nov. 19) at 5 p.m. (CST) for the right to advance to the 6:30 p.m. (CST) semifinal contest on Saturday (Nov. 20). The winner will face the Texas State-Troy winner for the championship match berth.
The Ragin' Cajuns nearly reverse swept Coastal in October, pushing the Chants through 8-all in Set 5.
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