MOBILE, Ala. -- South Alabama cut out a nail-biting win in the first set before winning the third and fifth sets over Southern Miss (26-28, 25-23, 17-25, 25-23, 15-7) on Tuesday night. The Golden Eagles won the 2015 Hattiesburg contest in five sets.
"South Alabama came out ready to play," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "They're a tough team and they served really well. We weren't able to run our offense well. I think our team fought to get a couple of those sets, but we have to get better."
The Jaguars (6-1) came out firing in the fifth set, taking an 11-3 lead.
Sarah Bell got Southern Miss within 6-5 in the first set on a nice low dig that set up a Catherine Repsher attack and kill. Southern Miss tied it at 7, but the Jaguars responded and took a 14-10 lead that forced a Golden Eagle timeout. Coombs tapped a point home on a solo block and kill, then followed it up with a Chanel Joyce block assist that ultimately forced South Alabama to call a timeout leading 20-18.
Bell continued to play well with another quick kill and then combining on a block assist with Repsher. It forced USA to call a timeout tied at 23. Repsher made a nice solo block that tied it at 26, but back-to-back USA kills gave them the set.
A sliding dig by Makareta Rademakers eventually gave way to a Purdue kill that got Southern Miss its third consecutive point and to within 10-8 in the second set. The Golden Eagles trailed 14-9 and 16-11 before Coombs found the back corner on a kill. Three more points followed before South Alabama called a timeout.
Some outstretched reaches by the Golden Eagles paved the way for Repsher to kill one to the far right side, and another point after tied the match at 21 and forced a Jaguar timeout.
The Golden Eagles (6-2) came back from the third set intermission determined. Two Purdue kills, one hard and one soft, followed by a Joyce block gave them a 6-2 lead. South Alabama came right back and took a 10-7 lead that forced a timeout. Southern Miss had to call another down 16-9.
The fourth set saw Southern Miss possess a 12-9 lead before the first timeout was called. The Golden Eagles took an 18-12 lead when Druhan turned her back to chase down a ball, then Purdue swatted one home for the kill. It was a 19-16 score before a a timeout by the visitors. Repsher provided a nice kill that staved off the Jag rally and forced them to call timeout trailing 21-19, then did the same to make it 22-21.
Southern Miss will look to get back on track this weekend at the Crimson Tide Invitational in Tuscaloosa. The Golden Eagles will face Lehigh (1 p.m.) and Alabama (7 p.m.) on Friday before closing with Northwestern State at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
-Stephany Purdue had a match-high 21 kills after having 26 her last time out.
-Natalie Druhan tied a career-high 25 digs, the most by any Golden Eagle on the year. She and Purdue had 16 each at LSU on Saturday.
-Purdue now has four double-doubles on the year (second in C-USA).
-Kylie Grandy had her fourth double-digit kill performance of the year, finishing with 10.
-Sarah Bell's 50 assists marked the 11th time in her career she reached that plateau.
-Catherine Repsher had 12 kills, her fourth double-digit performance on the year.
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