TROY, Ala. (AStateRedWolves.com) — The seventh seeded Arkansas State volleyball squad opened up the 2013 Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 3-2 (12-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 15-7) win over in-state rival and second seed UALR Thursday at Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala.
Trailing 2-1, A-State (15-19) was the first to 10 points after two Shelby Crncic service aces made the score 10-3, but an 8-2 UALR run trimmed the Red Wolves' lead to one point at 12-11. Arkansas State responded with a 9-4 run of its own to stretch its lead to 21-15 after a kill by Sarah Kemp. UALR got as close as three points at 24-21 but a Trojan service error gave A-State a 25-21 game four victory to tie the match at 2-2.
In the fifth and deciding set, Arkansas State got off to a hot start with three straight kills from Kelsey Sullivan, Kelsey Reis, and Jackie Gerig to take a 3-0 lead and force a Trojan timeout. The Red Wolves stretched the lead out to 8-4 on a Kemp kill before the teams flipped sides of the court and another kill by Kemp on the next point gave A-State a 9-4 lead that made UALR use its last timeout of the set. A-State registered the next two points to take an 11-4 lead, but the Trojans responded to get within five points at 12-7. Consecutive kills from Sullivan and Sadie Clark gave the Red Wolves match point at 14-7 and a Trojan attack error on the next point clinched a 15-7 fifth set victory and a 3-2 match win.
"We didn't play as well as we needed to at times," A-State volleyball coach David Rehr said. "We had too many errors and let them have too many runs, but we fought and stayed in it until the end. We played well at the end and we did enough to get the win and into the semifinals."
Clark led A-State with 15 kills, while Reis and Sullivan recorded double-digit kills with 12 each. Mallory Warrington dished out 50 assists and also recorded 12 digs for her seventh double-double of the season. Defensively, the Red Wolves were led by Megan Baska's 21 digs and Reis's three blocks. Crncic registered three of A-State's seven service aces on the afternoon to lead the team.
The Red Wolves had a solid start to the match by obtaining a 7-5 edge on a Kendal Davis kill, but a 12-0 run gave UALR a 17-7 lead that A-State could not recover from as the Trojans won the first set 25-12. In the second set, A-State and UALR battled back and forth to a 14-14 tie before a 7-2 run, capped by a Warrington kill, gave the Red Wolves a 21-16 lead. UALR got as close as three points, but failed to catch up as A-State took the second set 25-19.
UALR came out strong in the third set by jumping out to a 14-8 lead before a 5-0 A-State run closed the gap to 14-13 after a Gerig kill. The Trojans bounced back with a 6-1 run of their own to take a 20-14 lead, but Arkansas State got as close as two points at 24-22 on a Reis kill. UALR quelled all thoughts of an A-State comeback with a kill on the next point and the Trojans took a 25-22 third set victory and a 2-1 match lead into the fourth set.
The Red Wolves will take on the third seed Texas State Friday at Trojan Arena. First serve is scheduled for 4 p.m.