DENTON, Texas -- Sophomore Kylie Grandy's clutch performance on her 19th birthday helped carry the Golden Eagles to a 3-1 win at North Texas (25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 26-24) on Friday night inside the North Texas Volleyball Center.
"That was a really gritty win for us," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "North Texas is always a tough matchup for us. We had to fight and battle for this win. I think Stephany [Purdue] played well on the outside and offensively Sarah did a great job there and also on defense. Overall it was a good win. It was nice to start the conference season 1-0."
The Golden Eagles (12-4, 1-0 C-USA) were sitting fairly well at 17-14 in the fourth set. Three straight Mean Green points forced a Southern Miss timeout, and it became an 18-17 deficit immediately after that. North Texas had a chance to force a fifth set, but a service error gave Southern Miss new life. Grandy then took over. Her kill gave the Golden Eagles a 25-24 lead before she and Catherine Repsher teamed up on a block assist that won the night.
The previous set was an emphatic one for Southern Miss, opening up margins of 9-4 and 17-9. Four of five points in one of the spans came via the kill, and two more by Alexis Coombs and Stephany Purdue sealed the deal to give a pivotal boost to the visitors.
Southern Miss left no doubt in the first set, leading the entire way. It began with a UNT attack error, then Natalie Druhan picked up a service ace before a Repsher kill. The advantage developed to 8-3 and 9-4. Sarah Bell's kill gave the Golden Eagles their largest lead at 11-5, but the Mean Green got within 20-19 and forced Southern Miss into a timeout. The squad marched on to a 25-22 win.
The Mean Green regained their home-court advantage, starting out with a 7-5 lead. A couple of miscues gave the momentum back to Southern Miss, which followed up with kills from Grandy and Coombs for a 9-7 Golden Eagle advantage. Both teams remained tight till North Texas went up 19-15 and finished the set.
Southern Miss will look to keep its momentum Sunday at 1 p.m. when it plays at UTSA.
-Southern Miss now has a 5-4 lead in the series. UNT won the previous two.
-The Golden Eagles have won three straight C-USA openers and four of their last five.
-Kylie Grandy's birthday saw her produce the final two winning plays of the night, as well as a 12-kill, 12-dig performance that gives her a team-high seven double-doubles.
-Sarah Bell finished with seven kills, 48 assists and 12 digs, giving her six double-doubles on the year. The last Southern Miss triple-double was by Kelsea Seymour in 2011.
-Stephany Purdue led everyone with 17 kills, giving her 1,439 for her career. She is chasing Tosha Barnicoat for the all-time school record (1,566 from 1996-99).
-Purdue's five assists tied a career-high set last year.
-Alexis Coombs' 10 kills were one off the career-high she had at Alabama.
-Catherine Repsher's nine kills came with a .615 hitting percentage. She leads the team with a .320 mark on the year.
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