HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Golden Eagle volleyball team dropped their final home match with a tough loss to FIU in four sets 3-1 (26-25, 22-25, 22-25, 22-25) Sunday.
Southern Miss falls to 14-13 on the season and 5-7 in Conference USA while FIU improved to 11-15 and 5-8.
Four Golden Eagles tallied double figure kills but it wasn't enough. Southern Miss out killed FIU, 67-61, but the Panthers finished with a .309 hitting clip to .223 for the Golden Eagles. FIU out blocked the Eagles, 9.0 to 5.0.
Quinci Hayward paced the Eagles with 19 kills while Jasmine Crowell and Elise Ames recorded 17 kills apiece and Stephany Purdue added 10 kills. Mary Pursell picked up 27 digs while Purdue added 11 digs. Kristen Fleming had 61 assists.
It took a few extra points for Southern Miss to defeat FIU in the first set by a score of 26-24. The two teams battled from start to finish as neither team managed to gain the advantage before FIU used a 4-0 in taking an 11-7 lead. A Southern Miss timeout did not show down the FIU offense as the Panthers pushed the lead to 15-8. After the second Golden Eagle timeout, the momentum shifted towards the Eagles as Southern Miss cut the lead to 17-13. Southern Miss continued to chip away and after a 7-2 run, the home team led 20-19. The team battled down stretch as the Eagles ended the set with a pair of kills for the 26-24 win.
FIU scored the first three points to start the second set before the teams battled to a 4-4 tie. The teams went back and forth and after battling to a 13-13 tie, FIU scored four of the next five points for a 17-14 advantage. Southern Miss cut the lead to one on two occasions, but the Panthers held on for the 25-22 win.
The teams went back and forth for the first 13 points to start the third set, before FIU used a 6-2 run to gain a 13-8 lead. The teams continued to battle as the Golden Eagles closed the margin to 19-18. FIU regrouped to take the set 25-22.
Southern Miss started the fourth set strong after running out to a 6-2 lead. FIU battled back using a 12-6 run to take a 14-12 lead. FIU extended its lead to 19-13. The Golden Eagles were able to get the score to 20-17. Southern Miss put up a fight in cutting the lead to 22-21, but FIU held firm and closed the set scoring three of the final four points.
Lucia Castro led the Panthers with a match-high 20 kills to go with 15 digs while Gloria Levorin had 13 and Kimberly Smith added 10. Adriana McLamb finished with 24 digs. Jessica Egan recorded a double-double with 52 assists and 11 digs.
Southern Miss will close out the regular season on the road when the Eagles travel to Charlotte on Friday and finish at Florida Atlantic on Sunday.
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