BOONE, N.C. (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State volleyball team won its 20th straight match and clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship with a 3-1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 25-17) victory over Appalachian State Sunday afternoon at the Holmes Center in Boone, N.C.
The two teams split the first two sets, but A-State (24-1, 15-0 SBC) began the third game strong by jumping out to a 10-5 advantage on a Drew Jones kill. However, Appalachian State (20-5, 13-1 SBC) used a 5-1 run to fight back within 11-10. The Red Wolves responded again and stretch their lead to 20-14 before a 7-2 run by the Mountaineers put the score at 22-21 in favor of the visitors. A-State used a timeout and maintained a 24-23 lead for set point. Kelsey Reis ended any thoughts of an Appalachian State comeback with a kill and gave the Red wolves an important 25-23 set three win.
Fourth set action was back-and-forth early on with the score knotted 11-11 when the Red Wolves used a timeout. A-State used a 6-2 run to take a 17-13 advantage that forced an Appalachian State timeout and stretched the lead to 20-14 after a Darby Graff kill that caused the Mountaineers to use their final timeout. Arkansas State held a comfortable advantage the rest of the set and eventually clinched a 25-17 game four victory and 3-1 match win on a Carlisa May and Reis block.
"The one thing I don't think we were ready for was how hard Appalachian State works," A-State head volleyball coach David Rehr said. "This was another team win for us, and everyone did their job today. We knew we had to slow down their outsides because they were going to score, but we made them work for their points so that was a key. I'm very proud of our team, but we have to come back and play them again Thursday so we have to stay focused."
Graff led the Red Wolves with 16 kills on a .406 hitting percentage, while Reis (11) and May (10) also tallied double-digit kills. Mallory Warrington earned her team-best 14th double-double with 50 assists and 13 digs, while Jones led the team with three service aces and also chipped in with 14 digs and eight kills. Markie Schaedig led the defensive effort with 29 digs, while Hannah Robey finished with 13 to give the Red Wolves four players with double-digit digs. Reis was tops on the team with three blocks, including one block solo.
As a team, Arkansas State outhit the Mountaineers .231-.155 and registered six more kills (55-49). A-State recorded five aces to App State's one and also had more digs than the Apps 85-79. The Mountaineers led the Red Wolves in blocks by a count of 6-4.
Appalachian State and A-State were locked in a tight battle in set one with the score tied at 9-9 after the first 18 points, but an 11-6 run, capped by a Warrington service ace, put the Red Wolves ahead 20-15 and forced the Apps to use a timeout. However, the timeout didn't slow down the visiting team enough as Arkansas State got a Graff kill to earn a 25-18 set one win as the Red Wolves outhit the Mountaineers in the set .209-.083.
The second set was locked at 4-4 early on, but Appalachian State blew the set open with a 7-1 run to take a 12-5 advantage and never looked back. App State took a 22-10 lead on an Emily Corrigan kill and led 24-12 after an A-State attack error. The Red Wolves scored three points in a row on a Reis kill, Jones ace, and Apps' attack error to get within 24-15, but a Jess Keller kill gave the home team a 25-15 game victory as App State outhit Arkansas State .300-.079 in the set.