Arkansas State volleyball beats Georgia State in 1st round of SBC Tournament
Bailey Helzer dominated early and often Wednesday afternoon, tallying 19 kills in the Arkansas State volleyball team’s 3-0 victory over Georgia State in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Championship.
The freshman committed just two errors on 33 swings, accounting for a blistering .515 hitting percentage to lead all players. A-State (8-21) hit .231 as a squad and took advantage of 11 service errors by the Panthers (7-22). The Red Wolves have now won at least one match in the conference tournament in nine of their last 10 trips, and will face Old Dominion in the second round at Noon Thursday.
Sarah Martinez led defensively with a match-high 16 digs to go along with seven assists and an ace – one of four by the Scarlet and Black. Macey Putt added eight kills with 11 digs, putting her one shy of reaching 1,000 digs for her career.
Georgia State established early momentum, leading 7-3 before a 5-0 run gave A-State its first lead after a kill by Yazmyn Billings made it 8-7. The Panthers kept it close and reclaimed an 18-17 lead with a 4-0 run to force a timeout. That break in action proved beneficial for the Scarlet and Black, who took four of the next five points to lead 21-19 on kills by Helzer and Kyla Wiersema, who added seven kills. GSU cut it to one, but the Red Wolves held off the late rally to take the set 25-23 and lead 1-0 in the match.
A-State trailed just once in the second set, when a kill by Clara Bednarek gave Georgia State a 5-4 advantage. Seven of the next eight points went the Red Wolves’ way, including an ace by Lauren Musante, to make it 11-7. Another Wiersema kill sent the teams to the media timeout at 15-10, then an ace by Abby Harris later made it 17-12. The Panthers pulled within two on a kill by Laura Ehieze and force an A-State timeout. That would be as close as they would come, with Arkansas State taking a 2-0 lead in the match with the 25-21 decision in the second.
The Red Wolves surged out to an early lead, with Helzer notching a kill to make it 10-8. A-State’s lead ballooned to five on a kill by Putt, but the Panthers clawed back to take a 22-20 lead on back-to-back blocks. After a timeout, A-State took the final five points to take the match, ending on a Helzer ace followed by an Elise Wilcox kill.
A-State’s season continues Thursday against the East No. 3 seed Old Dominion. First serve against the Monarchs inside the Foley Sports Tourism Complex is slated for Noon on ESPN+.
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