BOCA RATON, Fla. -- A valiant comeback in the fourth set was stymied late by second-place Florida Atlantic, which defeated the Golden Eagles 3-1 on Sunday afternoon (22-25, 25-22, 20-25, 22-25). Chanel Joyce had a career-high 16 kills on the day.
"We just didn't play well enough to win," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "FAU is a very good team offensively and defensively. They wanted it a little more on defense than we did. Chanel had a great match for us and she needs to keep putting up those kinds of numbers. We just have to improve our blocking and digging to compete."
Southern Miss (16-7, 5-3 C-USA) took a 6-3 lead in the fourth set, but the two teams fought to ties at points 6-13 and FAU eventually took a 20-15 lead. The visitors fought all the way back to 22-all on a Catherine Repsher kill, but the Owls closed it out from there.
Southern Miss rebounded from a 3-0 deficit in the first round to take a 6-4 lead. Both teams continued to jockey for position, but the Golden Eagles were unaffected by a 10-7 margin to the home squad and took a 15-13 advantage that forced an Owl timeout. Stephany Purdue's kill put them up 18-15, but the Owls were able to move ahead from there and influence Southern Miss' first timeout of the day at 23-21.
The Golden Eagles were able to keep their heads up in the next set, taking the set's largest leads at 7-5 and 12-9, the latter calling for an Owl timeout. Kills by Grandy and Joyce followed by a clinching-service ace by Purdue gave the Gold and Black a much-needed 25-22 second-set win.
FAU (12-10, 7-1 C-USA) came out fast in the third set, opening up a 4-0 lead. Southern Miss clawed back from a 10-6 deficit to get within 11-10 and force an Owl timeout, and Grandy produced a service ace immediately after it. That would be the Golden Eagles' only tie, however, as seven straight points gave FAU a cushion it would not relinquish.
-Chanel Joyce has now tied or set a new career-high in three of her last five matches (14 back-to-back against WKU and UTEP, 16 today).
-Stephany Purdue and Kylie Grandy each added 13 kills. Purdue is now 45 away from tying the all-time school record (1,566 by Tosha Barnicoat, 1996-99).
-Grandy's 16 digs were a season-high.
-Sarah Bell's 48 assists gives her 2,270 for her career. She is looking to catch Beth Keck (2,457 from 1995-97) for eighth in Southern Miss history.
-Katherine Still's ace was her second of the season.
-The Golden Eagles hit .387 in the second set and played in the eastern time zone for the first time all year.
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