FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team lost a heartbreaker in the first set and came back to win in the third, but No. 25 Kansas State was able to get by with a 3-1 win (23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-25) over the Golden Eagles to conclude the Arkansas Invitational and non-conference season.
"Kansas State is a very good team," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "I think that this match taught us a lot. We have to make a few less errors. Passing is gonna be key for us too to run our offense. I'm really proud of this team for coming back in the third set. They came back from a big deficit and that's a real good Kansas State team and I'm proud of the way they responded."
Stephany Purdue and Natalie Druhan earned All-Tournament honors. Purdue produced 42 kills and four service aces on the weekend while Druhan registered 51 digs and an ace.
Southern Miss (11-4) was unfazed in the early goings, keeping within three points at 10-7, 14-11 and 16-13. It got up to 19-15, but a 5-1 run forced Kansas State to call a timeout with a 20-19 lead. Alexis Coombs, who had a big day, produced a kill that got Southern Miss back within 23-22 and Grandy did the same for a 24-23 score, yet the Wildcats sealed it.
Kansas State (11-2) began with 4-0 and 12-7 advantages in the second. Three straight points at the midway point forced the Wildcats to call a timeout with a 17-15 lead, but an 8-3 run closed the set.
It appeared it would be more of the same in the third set, as a 9-3 lead put Southern Miss into a defensive mode to extend the day. It got within 10-9 on a Coombs kill that forced a K-State timeout, yet five more points ensued and Southern Miss had to do the same. The score read 18-12 before a 7-1 burst, completed by a Chanel Joyce kill, tied it at 19. The Wildcat lead got back up to 21-19, but Catherine Repsher's kill helped jolt the momentum that Southern Miss needed, and kills by Grandy and Coombs extended the morning.
The Wildcats came out and took a 9-2 lead that they would not let go, leading 18-7 and 21-13 en route to the win.
Southern Miss opens Conference USA play Friday night at North Texas (7 p.m.) before matching up at UTSA on Sunday at 1 p.m.
-Southern Miss is 35-15 (.700) in tournament play under Amanda Berkley in her four years.
-The Golden Eagles won 11 non-conference matches for the third consecutive season.
-Catherine Repsher's 14 kills led the Golden Eagles and tied a career-high (set against McNeese and Tulane in opening tournament).
-Sarah Bell now has 1,941 assists in her career. She is chasing Eri Kanazawa (2,060) for ninth all-time.
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