TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Golden Eagles fell just shy of picking up a Friday sweep at the Crimson Tide Invitational, taking care of Lehigh (25-18, 25-20, 27-25) before falling to host Alabama (20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 23-25, 9-15).
"I was proud of the way the team battled," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "Alabama is very talented and came ready to play. It was just real tough to stop Krystal Rivers [38 kills]. I thought our middles and right sides did really well, and Chanel [Joyce] played great. You just have to work from this loss."
The Golden Eagles will look to finish the tournament on a high note Saturday at 2 p.m. against Northwestern State.
Southern Miss 3, Lehigh 0
The first meeting between the schools saw Southern Miss never trail until the first point of the third set. It did not get ahead until Chanel Joyce's kill and an attack error made it 12-11. It stayed a two-point lead or less for the Golden Eagles until back-to-back attack errors put them down 23-21.
Three consecutive Mountain Hawk miscues put Southern Miss up 25-24, and a kill by Kylie Grandy put the squad in position to complete the sweep.
Stephany Purdue led everyone with 12 kills, and Grandy added seven more (.217 hitting percentage). Her 14 digs also tied a match-high.
Alabama 3, Southern Miss 2
It was a 6-6 contest in the fifth set before Alabama ultimately took a 12-8 lead it would not relinquish.
The fourth set was tied seven times through the middle of the match, and when Alabama took a 20-18 lead, Southern Miss called a timeout and roared back with four straight points. A service error gave the Tide a serve tied at 23, and they held on to force the decisive fifth.
Southern Miss (7-3) held a 4-1 advantage to begin the third set, and Alabama ultimately tied it 12 times between the 10th and 23rd points while also taking the lead in those latter phases. The Golden Eagles were far from deterred, and setter Sarah Bell continued her trend of getting kills late by putting Southern Miss up 24-23 before an attack error ended the action.
The Golden Eagles took a 4-1 lead in the second set, and then Alabama tied it at every point from 10 to 16. Purdue's kill to the right-hand side made it an 18-16 advantage, but the Crimson Tide put together three straight points that forced a Southern Miss timeout. Catherine Repsher's kill to the back line tied it at 20, but Alabama ultimately went up 22-21.
The match began on the even side, but Alabama kept Southern Miss at bay by a few points throughout. Repsher had a kill early that was too hot to handle, and Grandy continued her trend as one of the best servers in the country with an ace. Joyce's kill got Southern Miss within 13-11, but three straight Crimson Tide points forced a timeout.
-Southern Miss had defeated the Crimson Tide in five sets during the previous year's tournament.
-The squad posted .333 and .343 hitting percentages in the second and third sets, respectively.
-Both of those percentages would have been in the top three for Southern Miss in relation to single-match performance.
-Alexis Coombs had a career-high 11 kills. She had nine the previous year and is averaging 1.58 per set this season.
-Four Golden Eagles (Grandy 16, Purdue 15, Coombs 11, Joyce 10) reached double-figures in kills.
-Sarah Bell's 56 assists against Alabama were one off a career-high.
-Natalie Druhan continued to elevate her dig performance. She had a match-high 23 after posting a career-high 25 at South Alabama on Tuesday.
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