The Southern Miss volleyball team opened the 2014 season on a positive note, sweeping Arkansas-Pine Bluff in three sets, 25-14, 25-6, 25-13, in the Southern Miss Invitational Friday night.
Stephany Purdue and Jasmine Crowell tallied 10 kills each while Quinci Hayward added seven. Alex Pfefferle picked up 10 digs on the back row as Crowell and Elise Ames recorded a pair of block assists. Kristen Fleming notched 34 assists to go with five digs. Shelby Russell recorded five aces.
"I thought we had a tough serving game tonight," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "Shelby Russell turned in an outstanding performance. In the second set, she served for 17-straight points to end the set.
"For our first match, we were able to get some of the jitters out and we played better in the second set. Stephaney and Jasmine were out go to hitters tonight. They were able to find the open holes on the court," Berkley said.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the opening set, but Southern Miss battled back to tie the set at 6-6 using a 4-1 run. The teams traded points before Russell served up five consecutive points to push the Golden Eagles ahead 11-7. Southern Miss continued its strong serving performance, aided with some tough defense in taking the first set, 25-14.
The two teams battled back and forth to open the second set. After a Crowell kill to put the Golden Eagles up 8-6, Russell then ended the set by serving 17-straight points that included five aces in that stretch for a 25-6 victory.
The teams were even at 5-5 after the first 10 points to start the third set. Southern Miss took the momentum behind Crowell and Purdue combining for a pair of kills. UAPB closed the gap to 8-7, before Lydia Bonner ignited an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 16-7. The Lions added three straight points to cut the lead to 16-10. The Golden Eagles ended the set using a 9-3 run for the 25-13 win.
Southern Miss returns to action Saturday morning with the Golden Eagles take on Alabama A&M at 12:30 and concluded with Nicholls State at 6 p.m. Action begins at 10 a.m. with Nicholls State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Alabama A&M and Arkansas-Pine Bluff with face each other at 3:30 p.m.
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