HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss volleyball team got a balanced scoring attack in sweeping Florida Atlantic Sunday afternoon as the four seniors went out on a positive note with a 25-22, 25-18, 27-25 win.
The Golden Eagles improved to 20-11 overall and 9-5 in Conference USA while FAU dropped to 17-11, 8-7.
"This was an awesome team win and we had a lot of guts there at the end to finish the match," head coach Amanda Berkley said. "All of our seniors have meant a lot to this program. They've done a great job and it's great to see them succeed today. I thought Mary Pursell played an outstanding match. She dug a lot of balls and was all over the place. The plays at the end of the set were big plays. They were big time plays by big time players."
Quinci Hayward and Stephany Purdue paced the team with 14 and 12 kills, respectively, while Elise Ames added nine kills on a .533 hitting clip. Ames also had six blocks. Mary Pursell picked a match-high 21 digs while Shelby Russell added 14. Kristen Fleming handed out 41 assists. Southern Miss tallied 49 kills on .133 hitting, 63 digs and 9.0 team blocks.
FAU ran out to an 8-2 lead to start the first set forcing the Eagles to take a time out. Out of the timeout, Southern Miss got a big block from Fleming and Ames to spark a 7-2 run in tying the set at 10-10. FAU tacked on three more points with a kill and a pair of USM errors for the 13-10 lead. The Golden Eagles scored 11 of the next 18 points to tie the set at 21-21. Out of a FAU timeout, Ames put down a kill to give the Eagles a 22-21 lead, but FAU added a kill to keep the set tied. Southern Miss was able to close out the set with three straight points as Purdue put down a kill, followed by a Jasmine Crowell block before Purdue ended with a kill for the 25-22 win.
The teams battled back and forth to start the second before the Eagles got a kill and block to go ahead 8-6. Out of a FAU timeout, the Black and Gold added a pair of points for the 10-6 lead, then, FAU scored the next four points to knot the set at 10-10. Coming out of a USM timeout, the Eagles scored five of the next seven points for the 15-12 lead. The Eagles kept the momentum scoring the next four points out of a FAU timeout to increase their lead to 19-12. In spite of FAU scoring six points, the Eagles held on for the 25-18 win.
Perhaps the most exciting set of the day came in set three as the Golden Eagles battled back from a six-point deficient. FAU took control early as the Owls led 13-8. Out of a USM timeout, the home team used a 9-6 run to cut the lead to 19-17. FAU took a timeout to regroup, but Southern Miss took advantage of three-straight FAU errors in taking a 20-19 lead. FAU added a pair of points out of the timeout to regain the lead 21-20. Southern Miss got a kill from Crowell to tie the set, but the Owls added two more points for the 23-21 advantage. Out of a Southern Miss timeout, the Eagles got a point before FAU answered with a point for set point. Southern Miss was able to fend off a set point with a kill from Crowell and combo block by Hayward and Ames in tying the set at 24-24. FAU responded with a kill for another set point before Hayward's kill knotted the set again at 25-25. The Golden Eagles closed out the set behind a block from Ames and Hayward, while Hayward put the finishing touch with a kill in securing the 27-25 win.
Brittany Brown led FAU with eight kills while Kristi Tekavec added six. Nathalie Rosado led the team with 15 digs while Kristina Rankovic added 10. FAU finished with 26 kills on .053 hitting, 46 digs and 14.0 team blocks.
Southern Miss will close out the regular season with a pair of matches at UAB (11/14) and at Charlotte (11/16) before returning home to host the 2014 Conference USA Volleyball Championship, Nov. 21-23 in Reed Green Coliseum.
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