FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A heroic push in the first set of the day blazed a trail for Southern Miss to defeat Arkansas (28-26, 25-16, 15-25, 25-19) and UMKC (25-22, 25-21, 25-16) on Friday night in the Arkansas Invitational.
"It was a great day for Southern Miss Volleyball," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "This team just believed. They're just a fun team to coach right now. It's Natalie [Druhan's] birthday and we gave her two presents. She's played really well and been steady eddie in the back row. This team has really come together. They played fearless and we are excited to be tomorrow."
The Golden Eagles (11-3) will finish the tournament, and non-conference season, at 10 a.m. Saturday against No. 25 Kansas State.
Southern Miss 3, Arkansas 1
The Razorbacks were the first to claim a three-point lead on the day, doing so at 15-12 in the first set. A kill by Stephany Purdue completed a lasting Southern Miss effort to retake the lead at 21-20, but Arkansas ultimately went back up 24-22. Chanel Joyce's kill, an attack error, and Purdue ace gave Southern Miss a 25-24 lead, but the Golden Eagles held firm and pulled out a 28-26 victory.
The momentum remained heavily on the Southern Miss side in the next set, as a Razorback service error handed the ball back to Southern Miss for four straight points, including a service ace by Druhan. After Arkansas got within 9-3, the home squad only got back within six points one more time the rest of the set.
The Razorbacks in the third set regained what they had lost, taking an 8-7 lead they would not relinquish. Southern Miss was forced to call timeouts trailing 12-8 and 18-11.
The Golden Eagles found themselves down 5-2 in the fourth set, but a few Razorback miscues allowed for a 5-1 run. This time, it was the visitors that never trailed after holding an 8-7 lead. Arkansas called timeout down 21-16, but a Purdue ace and kills by Catherine Repsher and Kylie Grandy sealed the deal.
Southern Miss 3, UMKC 0
Just like in the first set of the noon match, Southern Miss faced adversity. UMKC slowly built up a 15-8 lead, but the Golden Eagles remained steady without using a timeout. Four straight points forced the Kangaroos to call one, and the Black and Gold came right back out to complete an 11-1 run that saw them go up 19-16.
A 2-0 deficit was all that Southern Miss faced in the next bout, building up a 14-8 lead as well. It was the same deal in the third set too, where a 15-8 lead remained comfortable until a Purdue kill concluded the doubleheader sweep.
-Southern Miss got its first-ever win against the Razorbacks in its fourth try (last was in 2002). It had also never faced UMKC.
-The Golden Eagles are 2-1 against the SEC, winning at LSU in four sets and falling to Alabama in five.
-Southern Miss is now 35-14 in four years of tournaments under head coach Amanda Berkley (.714).
-The Golden Eagles entered the weekend as the only C-USA team to have three players record at least four double-doubles, and Kylie Grandy and Sarah Bell kept it going.
-Grandy did it twice (15 kills, 10 digs vs. Arkansas), (10 and 10 against UMKC). Bell had 50 assists and 10 digs versus the Razorbacks.
-Bell now has at least 50 assists in five matches this year, 13 for her career.
-Alexis Coombs has increased her kill total in four straight matches (4-5-7-8).
-Chanel Joyce's 12 kills versus Arkansas were a career-high. She also had 11 in the Virginia match.
-Natalie Druhan padded her team digs lead, posting 32 on the day (including 18 in the three-set nightcap).
-Stephany Purdue had 19 kills against Arkansas and 10 versus UMKC, giving her 1,409 in her career. She is chasing Tosha Barnicoat (1,566 from 1996-99) for the all-time school record.
-Purdue and Sarah Bell each had three service aces.
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