TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team is off to its best start in school history after defeating Tulsa 3-1 (12-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-23) in the Hampton Inn Bama Bash Saturday afternoon to claim the tournament title.
The Golden Eagles came back from a set down to win its second tournament title of the season to improve to 8-0. Tulsa fell to 3-3 on the season.
"This team just battles and battles," Head Coach Amanda Berkley said. "They played four very good teams who all won 20 matches last year and competed every time. I am so proud of this team for their fight and will to win.
"Stephany Purdue had another great match and is leading this team to win. Kylie Grandy is not playing like a freshman. She has stepped up blocking and defense has been solid contributor for us. Another great team win."
Purdue earned her second tournament MVP honor while Mary Pursell and Grandy were named to the all-tournament team. Purdue finished the match with 15 kills and Elise Ames added 11 kills and seven blocks. Pursell recorded a season-high 33 digs and had two aces. Grandy finished with 14 digs and eight kills.
The two teams played evenly through the first six points before Tulsa went on a 7-2 run to take a 10-5 lead. Southern Miss regrouped after using a timeout to stop the Golden Hurricane's momentum. The Golden Eagles managed to add a pair of points, but Tulsa strung together six straight points for a 16-7 lead. From there, the Golden Hurricane dominated, allowing the Eagles five points for the 25-12 win.
Tulsa scored six of the first eight points to start the second set before Southern Miss used a 4-1 run to cut the lead to 7-6. Tulsa added four straight points to push its lead to 11-6. The Golden Eagles began chipping away at the lead with a mixture of kills and defense at the net. With Tulsa leading 15-10, Southern Miss outscored the Golden Hurricane 7-1 to take a 17-16 lead, forcing Tulsa into a timeout. Southern Miss continued its momentum out of the timeout, tacking on two more points. After Tulsa's final timeout, the Golden Eagles ended the set scoring five of the final nine points for the 25-22 win.
The teams battled back and forth in the early portion of the set. The set featured 13 ties and five lead changes. Neither team managed to earn more than a two-point advantage. With the score tied at 19-19, the Black and Gold ended the set with a 6-1 run for the 25-20 win.
The fourth set mirrored the third set as the teams battled through the 32 points between the teams. With the score tied at 17-17, Tulsa had back-to-back kills in taking a 19-17 lead. Out of a Southern Miss timeout, the Golden Hurricane added another point via an ace. Southern Miss halted the run with a Rachel Johnson kill, but a service error and Tulsa block put Tulsa ahead 22-18. Out of Southern Miss' final timeout, Ames put down a kill and Purdue followed with a kill to cut the lead to 22-20. After a Tulsa timeout, Southern Miss had back-to-back blocks to tie the set at 22-22 before Tulsa had a hitting error that allowed the Golden Eagles to take a 23-22 lead. After Tulsa's final timeout, Ames and Purdue combined for a block before Tulsa added a kill. Chambers put the final kill down to seal the win and match 25-23.
Emily Thorson with 14 kills while Ashley Hooper and Erica Bohannon had 12 kills each. Brooke Berryhill picked up 20 digs.
Southern Miss travels to Jackson State for a mid-week contest on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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