ASU volleyball wins five-set thriller in Sun Belt opener

JONESBORO, Ark. ( – The Arkansas State volleyball team opened up its home schedule with a conference win over Sun Belt Conference newcomer Georgia State in a five-set thriller 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 15-6).

A-State (5-10, 1-0) jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first set after a service ace by Jackie Gerig, but Georgia State came back to tie the set at 13-13 on a 7-1 run.  The Red Wolves regained the lead and held a 19-16 advantage before the Panthers used a 7-3 run to take a 23-22 lead.  Georgia State (5-10, 0-1) won two of the next three points to win the set 25-23 and take a 1-0 lead in the match.  In the second set, A-State raced out to a 13-6 lead, capped by a Markie Schaedig service ace, but the Panthers closed the deficit to 14-12 on a kill.  Georgia State got within one point at 19-18, but a 6-3 A-State run closed out the 25-21 second set victory for the Red Wolves.

With the match tied at 1-1, the Panthers and Red Wolves found themselves tied at 12-12, but a 7-1 Georgia State rally gave the Panthers a 19-13 lead.  A-State responded in a huge way with a 12-4 run, sparked by three Sarah Kemp kills, to take the third set by a score of 25-23 and obtain a 2-1 edge in the match.  Georgia State started the fourth set off with a 10-7 run, but saw the Red Wolves battle back to tie it at 15-15.  The Panthers used another 10-7 run to close out the set and record a 25-22 set victory that tied the match at 2-2.

In the match-clinching set, the Red Wolves came out in dominating fashion to take an 8-3 lead after a Sadie Clark kill before both teams switched ends of the court.  After the switch, A-State extended its advantage to 13-3 after an attack error by GSU.  The Panthers won the next three points to make the score 13-6, but a Clark kill and Panther attack error gave the Red Wolves a 15-6 fifth set victory and 3-2 match win.

"I just loved the way we finished game five," A-State volleyball coach David Rehr said.  "We kind of dominated them in that set and we took them out of their system, so hopefully we can do that more often."

Offensively, A-State was led by Kemp's 18 kills, while Kelsey Sullivan (15) and Clark (13) also recorded double-digit kills.  Gerig dished out 48 assists to pace A-State and Kemp added three service aces.  Defensively, Megan Baska registered 18 digs and Kelsey Reis added seven blocks to lead the Red Wolves.

"You need to start off Sun Belt play on a good step, especially after the disappointing results last weekend," Rehr added.  "We stressed blocking in practice this week and we doubled their team blocks.  We also needed to work on service aces and we ended up with six service aces and 10 blocks.  I'll take those numbers all day long.  We've got a really good team coming up in Troy, so we needed to win this one and Georgia State made us earn it."

A-State faces conference foe Troy in its next match on Sunday, Sept. 29 at noon in the Convocation Center.