HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team captured a three-set win over Middle Tennessee (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) in Conference USA action Friday night.
"This was an overall good team win tonight," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "Stephany Purdue played really well offensively. She was hitting high and aggressively. Mary Pursell did a nice job defensively. She was all over the place. It was a good team win against a good opponent. Middle Tennessee has some good athletes."
Southern Miss improved to 17-5 overall and 4-1 in league play while Middle Tennessee fell to 4-16 and 2-4. The Golden Eagles collected 46 kills on a .277 hitting clip, recorded five ace, 46 digs and just 4.0 team blocks. The Blue Raiders finished with 37 kills on .235 hitting, 45 digs and 4.0 team blocks.
Offensively, Stephany Purdue tallied double-digit kills with 14 followed by Kylie Grandy with nine and Kelsey Chambers with eight. Mary Pursell picked up a match-high 21 digs. Sarah Bell dished out 38 assists to go with a pair of aces.
Southern Miss scored eight of the first 12 points in taking an 8-4 lead early. The teams traded the next three points before the Middle Tennessee used a 5-1 run in taking an 11-10 lead. Southern Miss then added a back-to-back points in regaining the lead. The teams battled back and forth until Southern Miss added three straight points for a 17-14 lead. Out of the Blue Raiders' timeout, Middle Tennessee added a point before the home team ended the set using an 8-3 for a 25-18 win.
Middle Tennessee started the second set scoring seven of the first 11 points. The Golden Eagles answered with a 5-1 run for the 9-8 lead. After Middle Tennessee took a timeout, the Blue Raiders regrouped and fought to a 12-12 tie. A Purdue kill ignited a 5-0 run to push the Eagles' lead to 17-12. Middle Tennessee did not go quietly as the Blue Raiders battled to within 19-17 to force Southern Miss to take a timeout. However, out of the timeout, the Black and Gold finished the set with a 6-2 run for the 25-19 win.
There were 11 ties and six lead changes in the third set alone. The teams matched point for point for most of the set. After battling to a 12-12 tie, the home team outscored the visitors 6-3 for the 18-15 lead. The Blue Raiders added three straight points out of a timeout to tie the set at 18-18. After a Southern Miss timeout, Middle Tennessee added a point before the Golden Eagles ended the set using a 7-4 run and a 25-22 win.
Chelsea Ross led the Blue Raiders with a match-high 16 kills while Miri Shade added nine kills. Ross, Ashton Peck and Bridget Keller picked up 10 digs apiece while Delaney Taylor had 34 assists.
Southern Miss will not travel to Western Kentucky for a Sunday match set for 12 p.m.
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