HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team battled back from a 2-0 deficit to post its first win of the season with a 3-2 victory over Mercer in the night cap of the Southern Miss Invitational.
"This was a good team win," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "I thought we played much better in the second set and gained more confidence even though we didn't win it. Coming out after the intermission, I thought the team played much better and started to make plays. It was a total team effort."
Junior Stephany Purdue recorded a double-double of 17 kills and 20 digs while freshman Kylie Grandy posted her first career double-double with 17n kills and 13 digs. Senior Rachel Johnson added 10 kills and four blocks. Freshman Sarah Bell dished out 33 assists to go with nine digs. Defensively, seniors Mary Pursell collected 20 digs while Shelby Russell added 10 digs.
Mercer opened the set scoring seven of the first 10 points in taking a 7-3 lead. The Golden Eagles began chipping away at the Bears' lead, using a 4-1 run to cut the lead to 16-14 and forcing Mercer to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, Southern Miss scored five of the next seven points in taking a 19-18 lead. After Mercer's final timeout, the Bears finished the set outscoring Southern Miss 7-1 for the 25-20 win.
Set two was another hard fought set where Southern Miss went up 15-13 before Mercer was forced to call a timeout. Following the timeout, Mercer used a 7-3 run to fight back and tie the set up 20-20. This caused Southern Miss to call a timeout. After Southern Miss's timeout, both teams scored two points to make it a 22-all set. Mercer then called another timeout. Once both teams got back on the court, Southern Miss was only able to score one more point to drop the second set to Mercer 25-23.
The Golden Eagles ran out to a 5-1 lead forcing the Bears to take a quick timeout. Following the timeout, Mercer gained the momentum and battled to within one point before Southern Miss burned a timeout, leading 16-15. The Golden Eagles was able to regain some momentum out of its timeout going on a 3-1 run. Out of Mercer's second timeout, the Golden Eagles kept fighting to win the set 25-19.
In the fourth set, both teams started on similar paths with the game tied up at 6-6. Southern Miss went on a 7-3 run on points putting their lead at 13-9 forcing a Mercer timeout. Post timeout, Southern Miss scored seven of the next 11 points, taking a 20-13 lead. Southern Miss only allowed 4 more points against them to win the fourth set 25-17.
Southern Miss got out to another 5-1 start in the fifth set. After a Mercer timeout, Mercer scored four points to tie the game up 5-5. This forced Southern Miss to call a timeout. Following Southern Miss's timeout, Southern Miss scored three points before Mercer came back to tie up the set, 8-8. Southern Miss added a trio of points to their total before Mercer called its second timeout. The Black and Gold then outscored Mercer 4-1 to win the set and match, 15-10.
Morgan MacGilvary led Mercer with 15 kill to go with 15 digs. Tori Penrod picked up a match-high 21 digs while Claire Wallczek added a double-double with 18 assists and 13 digs.
Action resumes Saturday at 10 a.m. with Mercer and Nicholls followed by Southern Miss and Southern-Baton Rouge at 12:30 p.m. Southern-Baton Rouge will then take on Mercer and the Golden Eagles will close out the tournament with a match against Nicholls at 6 p.m.
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