HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A trio of Golden Eagles recorded double-figure kills in leading Southern Miss past Marshall in four sets (25-18, 17-25, 25-15, 26-24) in Conference USA action on Sunday.
Southern Miss improved to 15-8 and 4-2 in league play while Marshall dropped to 9-12 and 3-3. Southern Miss finished the match with 64 kills on a .279 hitting clip, two aces, 56 digs and 10.0 team blocks. Marshall had 48 kills on .207 hitting, two ace, 46 digs and 10.0 team blocks.
Junior Quinci Hayward led the group with a match-high 22 kills followed sophomore Stephany Purdue with 19 and Jasmine Crowell added 16. Mary Pursell, who recorded her 1,000th-dig in her career, finished the match with 22 digs. Kristen Fleming paced the team with 56 assists and added 11 digs for a double-double. Pursell becomes the 16th player in Golden Eagle history to record over 1,000 digs.
"After the second set we really picked it up defensively," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "I'm really proud of Mary Pursell for getting her 1,000th-dig. We had some great matches from both our outsides. They did a great job of putting the ball down when it counted. I think it was an overall good team effort. I think we improved and we did some really great things defensively, but again it was a great team effort."
The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 6-3 advantage in the first set with five kills coming from Hayward and Purdue. After a quick Marshall timeout, Southern Miss continued to get timely kills from five different Eagles in pushing its lead to 16-8. The home team was able to finish the set strong in taking a 25-18 win.
The teams battled back and forth through the first 16 points to start the second set. Marshall then used a 7-4 run for the 16-12 lead. The Herd kept the momentum, pushing their lead to 20-15. Southern Miss' offense stalled as Marshall added four kills and a block for a 25-17 win.
After running out to a 7-3 lead to start the third set, Southern Miss did not let up for the remainder of the set. The Golden Eagles recorded 17 kills on a .400 hitting clip while hold Marshall to .105 hitting. The Black and Gold turned in a stellar defensive effort, totaling six total blocks and 18 digs while Purdue and Hayward combined for 10 kills.
The fourth set featured nine ties and four lead changes as the two team battled through the set. The team battled to a 7-7 tie before the Golden Eagles used a 4-1 for the 11-8 lead. Southern Miss eventually pushed the lead to 17-12 and forcing Marshall to take a timeout. The Thundering Herd came roaring back in cutting the lead to 19-17. Southern Miss called a timeout, trying to stop the Herd momentum. The Herd continued to chip away at the Golden Eagle lead and eventually tied the set 21-21. From there, Southern Miss got back-to-back kills and a solo block from Hayward for set point at 24-21. Marshall did not go away as the Herd used an Eagle error and a pair of blocks to knot the score at 24-24. Southern Miss ended the set when Hayward and Purdue put down back-to-back kills for the 26-24 win.
Cassie Weaver and Ally Kiekover led Marshall with 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Allie Kellerman picked up 16 digs while Sammie Bane had 40 assists to go with eight digs and four blocks.
Southern Miss hits the road for a pair of matches at Florida Atlantic (Oct. 17) and FIU (Oct. 19).
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