ASU volleyball downs South Alabama in five sets

JONESBORO, Ark. ( – The Arkansas State volleyball team defeated Sun Belt Conference foe South Alabama 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-13) at the Convocation Center Friday night.

South Alabama (5-9, 0-4 SBC) came out strong in the first set with a 10-5 lead before A-State cut the deficit to one point at 15-14 after a Jaguar attack error.  The Red Wolves were able to get within one point again at 17-16, but an 8-4 run closed out the 25-21 first set victory for the Jaguars.  A-State (7-11, 3-1 SBC) responded with a strong start to the second set and led South Alabama 6-1 after a Kendal Davis kill.  USA fought back with a 9-4 rally to tie the set at 10-10.  The match went back and forth and was tied 23-23 after a Jaguar attack error, but South Alabama recorded the final two points for a 25-23 set victory and 2-0 lead in the match.

After the 10 minute break, Arkansas State looked sharp in the third set after building an 11-3 lead on a block assist from Kelsey Sullivan and Sadie Clark.  South Alabama didn't give up on the set and fought back to within one point at 18-17, but a 7-2 A-State run gave the Red Wolves a 25-19 third set victory.  The Jaguars, holding a 2-1 match lead, jumped out to an early 11-8 lead in the fourth set before a 4-0 run, capped by a Kelsey Reis and Clark block, gave the Red Wolves a 12-11 advantage.  The set went back and forth from that point with neither team holding more than a three point edge.  With the set tied 23-23, consecutive A-State kills from Reis and Sarah Kemp gave the Red Wolves a 25-23 victory in the fourth game.

With the match tied 2-2, A-State raced out to an 8-4 lead in the deciding set before the teams switched ends of the court.  South Alabama used a 3-0 run to claw back within one point at 8-7 before A-State stretched its lead out to 12-9 on a Reis kill.  Two consecutive Jaguar points after an USA timeout made the score 12-11 and forced an ASU timeout.  The teams swapped points to make the score 13-12 in favor of A-State and a kill by Davis gave the Red Wolves match point at 14-12.  South Alabama survived one match point but a kill from Sarah Kemp on the next point gave the Red Wolves a 15-13 fifth set victory and a 3-2 match win, which is A-State's third consecutive five-set victory at home.

"We needed to start faster, but we didn't do it," A-State volleyball coach David Rehr said. "We've got to figure that out so we can start better.  We end great, but we have to start better too so we have to fix it.  We're just a team that guts things out though.  You hate going five, but we got our sweep, just after they won the first two sets.  We just have to get started better so we don't end up in this situation over and over again."

Clark set a new career-high in kills with 20 during the match.  Jackie Gerig recorded a season-high 54 assists and her fifth double-double of the year by adding 12 digs in the contest.  Defensively, Megan Baska fell one dig shy of her season high with 28 and Sullivan registered six blocks to pace the Red Wolves.

The Red Wolves are back in action against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Convocation Center on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.