HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- No. 25 Western Kentucky was able to pull away after two tight contests to begin the night, handing Southern Miss a 3-1 defeat (27-25, 26-28, 20-25, 20-25) on Thursday night. Senior Chanel Joyce led the Golden Eagles with a career-high 14 kills.
"Offensively we needed to use everybody," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "We did that, but we just had too many errors. The second set we were there but made some timely errors. Defensively we let them get on too many runs, and when you give them two errors in a row that makes a big difference against a very talented team."
There were 15 ties and seven lead changes in the first set, followed by 16 and nine in the second, respectively. The Golden Eagles fell behind 6-3 and 7-4 in the first and took their largest lead at 22-19. A bad set on set-point kept the Lady Toppers alive at 25-all, but Catherine Repsher's kill and a WKU attack error gave Southern Miss a huge start to the night.
The second set also saw the eventual winning team, Western Kentucky, get its largest lead at 22-19. That service ace was the first point after a Southern Miss timeout, but the Golden Eagles miraculously climbed back to get set-point at 25-24 on a Stephany Purdue kill. Alyssa Cavanaugh, one of the premier hitters in the league, responded with one of her own. Purdue then added a kill before a service error gave WKU another opportunity at 26-26 which they would not relinquish.
Southern Miss (13-6, 2-2 C-USA) remained steady in the third set. It led 12-11 and then tied it back up at 14 on a Kylie Grandy kill, but a 10-3 run after that ultimately put the Lady Toppers up 2-1 for the night.
WKU (17-2, 5-0 C-USA) forced Southern Miss to call a second timeout of the fourth set with a 15-9 lead.
The Golden Eagles hit the road again this weekend for a Sunday tilt at UTEP. First serve is at 12 noon CT.
-Five Golden Eagles reached double-figures in kills through the four sets (Chanel Joyce - 14, Stephany Purdue and Kylie Grandy - 12, Catherine Repsher - 11, Kylie Grandy - 10).
-It was just the second loss (eight matches) for the Golden Eagles when Chanel Joyce produced nine kills or more.
-Joyce's .360 hitting percentage was her highest since the team's sweep of UConn on Sept. 2 (.364).
-Grandy has had service aces in four straight matches, including a pair in each of the last two.
-Purdue is now 89 kills from breaking the school career record.
-Sarah Bell moved into ninth all-time at the school in career assists.
-WKU dropped its first set after sweeping its previous three C-USA matches, the last two being on the road.
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