ATLANTA, GA (A-STATE) – The Arkansas State volleyball team extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 19 matches as the Red Wolves hit .336 to Georgia State’s .045 in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-16) victory over the Panthers Friday night at the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta, Ga.
A-State improved to 23-1 on the season and remained perfect in Sun Belt Conference play at 14-0. The 14-0 mark to begin the conference season is the best since the 1980 season when that squad went 16-0 in the Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association.
The Red Wolves raced out to an 11-4 advantage on a Darby Graff and Kariana Castanon-Hill block that forced Georgia State (6-17, 2-11 SBC) to use a timeout. Arkansas State extended the lead to 17-9 on a Kelsey Reis kill that forced the home team to call another timeout, but that didn’t slow A-State down as the visitors claimed a 25-12 set victory after a Castanon-Hill kill.
The second set started out very close as the Panthers got within one point at 9-8 on a kill, but 9-3 run by the Red Wolves, capped by a Drew Jones service ace, put A-State out in front comfortable at 18-11. Georgia State called timeout, but never regrouped as a 7-3 run, finished by a Graff kill, gave Arkansas State a 25-14 set win and 2-0 edge in the match.
Georgia State responded strongly in the third set by jumping out to a 13-6 lead, and were awarded another point after A-State head volleyball coach David Rehr earned a red card. However, the Red Wolves were sparked by the red card and subsequently went on an 8-0 run to tie the set 14-14 and extended the run to 13-0 to take a 19-14 edge. A-State went on to end the set on a 19-2 run after the red cared and won 25-16 on a Jones kill and clinched a 3-0 win over the Panthers.
“The team has got my back,” Rehr said. “They’ve had my back all year and I lost us a point this match, but the team made sure that it didn’t matter. This was a good team effort though against a Georgia State team that is better than its record would indicate. They are fighting for the last spot so they gave us all they got, but we were prepared too. We didn’t overlook them at all and now we can move on to Sunday and Appalachian State.”
Jones led the team with 13 kills and hit a respectable .270, while Graff, Castanon-Hill, and Reis all hit above .350 to help the team to a .336 hitting percentage. Graff was the next highest in kills with nine and hit .471, while Castanon-Hill and Reis each had seven kills on attacking percentages of .545 and .353, respectively. Carlisa May also contributed with seven kills as the team only had nine errors on the night to the Panthers’ 21.
Mallory Warrington dished out 37 assists and also added three kills, while Markie Schaedig registered 27 digs to lead the defensive effort. Hannah Robey added 11 digs, while Reis led the squad with six blocks, including three block solos. Robey, Jones, Schaedig, and Brentlee Weaver all recorded one service ace. The Red Wolves didn’t allow the Panthers to record a single ace or block during the match.
Arkansas State returns to action Sunday in a showdown with Appalachian State that can be watched on ESPN3. First serve from the Holmes Center is set for 11:30 a.m. (CT). The Mountaineers defeated Georgia Southern 3-0 Friday night and will enter the match with a record of 20-4 and 13-0 in SBC play. Live stats will be available on AStateStats.com for fans that can’t tune in. For the latest on the A-State volleyball team, fans can follow them on Twitter (@stAteVolleyball) and Instagram (astatevolleyball).