HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team won the first set, but Florida Atlantic battled back to take the final three sets in defeating the Golden Eagles 23-25, 25-17, 28-26, 25-19.
Southern Miss falls to 13-5 overall and 1-1 in league play while Florida Atlantic improved to 9-5 and 1-1.
"FAU had a really good disciplined block and made it really tough for our hitting to score," Head Coach Amanda Berkley said. "Rachel Johnson and Elise Ames had a great match for us offensively. We have to find ways to get better and more confident."
Rachel Johnson and Stephany Purdue registered 15 and 13 kills, respectively for the Golden Eagles. Elise Ames added nine kills on .500 hitting and four total blocks. Mary Pursell picked up 24 digs. Sarah Bell had 42 assists and nine digs. Kylie Grandy recorded four aces and 10 digs.
Maja Ristic finished with a double-double for the Owls with 16 kills and 13 digs. Raveen Golston tallied 17 digs, Genesis Viera had 27 assists and 12 digs while Ivone Martinez finished with 19 assists. Kristina Rankovic had nine kills and 11 digs.
The Owls out-hit, out-dug and out-blocked the Eagles. FAU had 52 kills on a .239 hitting clip, had 64 digs and registered 10.0 team blocks. Southern Miss finished the match with 51 kills on .126 hitting, five aces, 56 digs and 7.0 team blocks.
Both teams battled back and forth to start the first set. The set featured 12 ties and six lead changes. Southern Miss was able to gain a little momentum, taking a 12-8 lead, but FAU came right back using a 6-1 run for a 14-13 lead. Out of a timeout, Southern Miss took advantage of a couple of FAU errors and two kills in regaining a 17-14 lead. The Owls would re-take the lead at 19-18 before the home team ended the set scoring seven of the final 11 points for a 25-23 win.
The teams played evenly for the first eight points, then FAU scored seven of the next nine points for an 11-6 lead. After gaining the momentum, the Owls continued to dominate at the net with timely kills and solid blocking. FAU tallied 16 kills on .263 hitting while holding the Golden Eagles to nine kills on .077 hitting on its way to a 25-17 win.
Florida Atlantic grabbed the early in the third set, running out to a 14-9 lead. Southern Miss began chipping away at the lead and fought to get the score to 16-15. Out of a timeout, the Golden Eagles continued to keep pace with the Owls and finally took a 20-18 lead behind a FAU service error and USM block. The Golden Eagles eventually pushed their lead to 24-21, but the Owls would not go quietly, battling back to tie the set at 24-24, before eventually out-dueling the Golden Eagles for a 28-26 win.
Set four started like each of the three previous sets with both teams battling early. Once FAU took control and took a 13-9 lead, the Golden Eagles' offense stalled and could not get back on track. The Owls pushed the lead to 20-13 before Southern Miss took its final timeout to try and slow the Owls offense. Southern Miss fought back to cut the lead to 22-18, but the Owls used big blocking and a stingy defense on the back row to keep the Golden Eagles in check for a 25-19 win.
Southern Miss remains at home to host South Alabama in non-conference action on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.
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