TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team is off to its best start (7-0) since 2008 after posting a 3-2 win over Alabama in the Hampton Inn Bama Bash Saturday morning.
"This was a total team effort," Head Coach Amanda Berkley said. "The team played tough and fought the entire time. Stephany Purdue was outstanding, taking aggressive swings and got the final kill. Kelsey Chambers had a heck of a match offensively and defensively. It was a really fun match and a great win for Southern Miss Volleyball."
Four Golden Eagles recorded double-figure kills led by Stephany Purdue with 23 while Kylie Grandy and Kelsey Chambers had 12 kills each and Rachel Johnson tallied 10 kills. Mary Pursell collected a season-high 31 digs with Purdue and Grandy adding 11 digs apiece in registering double-doubles. Sarah Bell had a season-high 53 assists to go with 12 digs. Johnson, Elise Ames and Chambers all combined for 16 total blocks.
As a team, the Golden Eagles finished with 64 kills on a .234 hitting clip, 77 digs and 12.0 team blocks.
The teams battled back and forth to start the set, eventually settling to an 11-11 tie before Alabama scored three straight points to take a 14-11 lead. After a Southern Miss timeout, Alabama added a point before the Golden Eagles cut the lead to 18-16. Alabama then used a 6-3 run to close out the first set 25-19.
After battling to an 11-11 tie to start the second set, the Black and Gold added three straight points that forced Alabama to take a timeout. Out of the timeout, Johnson put down a kill in pushing the lead to 15-11. Following a Southern Miss service error, Grandy and Purdue posted back-to-back kills. The Golden Eagles led 18-13 before Alabama rallied to cut the lead to 19-17. Out of a Southern Miss timeout, Purdue added a point for the visitors for the 20-17 advantage. The Crimson Tide fought back and cut the lead to 22-21 before Southern Miss ended the set scoring three of the final four points for the 25-22 win.
Alabama popped out to a 3-0 lead before Southern Miss scored eight of the next nine points to take an 8-4 lead. Alabama fought back to tie the set at 11-11. The teams traded points before the Golden Eagles outscored Alabama 6-1 in taking a 19-14 lead. After an Alabama timeout, the Crimson Tide added a point before Southern Miss upped the score to 21-15 on back-to-back kills by Purdue and Grandy. From there, Alabama rallied to tie the score 23-23. After a Southern Miss timeout, the teams traded points before the set ended with a Southern Miss block and Alabama error to give the visitors a 26-24 win.
Alabama ran out to a 4-1 lead before the Golden Eagles rallied to tie the set at 4-4. Alabama kept the momentum in pushing to score to 9-5. Southern Miss fought back to tie the set at 13-13, but Alabama added a pair of kills to take a 15-13 lead. The teams went back-and-forth as Alabama was able to maintain a lead down the stretch. Southern Miss fought off three set points before the Crimson Tide ended the set with a big block for the 25-23 win.
The fifth set featured seven ties and three lead changes. The teams battled evenly through the first 20 points. Southern Miss edged ahead courtesy of an Alabama error and a Purdue kill for the 12-10 lead. Alabama added a kill to cut the lead to one, but Purdue put down another kill and Tide committed another error to give the Eagles set and match point. Out of the Alabama timeout, a furious rally took place before Purdue got the final kill for the 15-11 win.
Kat Hutson led Alabama with 23 kills while Brittany Thomas added 11 kills and 19 digs. Leah Lawrence chipped in 10 kills as Natalie Murison collected 25 digs.
Southern Miss concludes play with a match against Tulsa at 2 p.m.
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