HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Sophomore outside hitter Stephany Purdue posted a team-best 20 kills on a .333 hitting as No. 6 Southern Miss fell to No. 3 North Texas Friday 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 12-25, 25-21) night in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Championship.
Southern Miss concludes its season at 20-14 while North Texas improved to 22-9 and will play No. 2 Western Kentucky in the semifinals at 4:30 Saturday.
Southern Miss finished with 46 kills on a .161 hitting clip, three aces, 56 digs and 9.0 team blocks while North Texas had 52 kills on .210 hitting, three aces, 62 digs and 10.0 team blocks.
Libero of the Year Mary Pursell picked up 18 digs and Kristen Fleming finished with a double-double of 34 assists and 18 digs. Jasmine Crowell tallied nine kills and six total blocks. Lydian Bonner also had six total blocks.
The first set featured 10 ties and seven lead changes as both team battled back and forth. Out of a North Texas timeout and trailing 11-10, the Mean Green outscored the Golden Eagles 8-4 in taking an 18-15 lead. Once North Texas took the momentum, the Mean Green finished strong with a 25-17 win.
Both teams battled back and forth through the first 10 points before Southern Miss edged out to a 10-7 lead. Player of the Year Carnae Dillard put down four kills in helping North Texas take a 12-11 advantage. Southern Miss then scored three straight points for a 14-12 lead. North Texas got an ace which ignited a 5-2 run that gave the Mean Green the lead for good. North Texas took the second set 25-19.
Out of the intermission, Southern Miss quickly ran out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back. Fleming had the Golden Eagle offense running smoothly as the Black and Gold took a commanding lead and never let up. Southern Miss took the third set 25-12.
North Texas opened the fourth set scoring 11 of the first 17 points. After a Southern Miss timeout, the Golden Eagles used a 5-2 run to get within 13-11. The team battled to a 15-15 tie before North Texas scored three straight points for the 18-15 lead. With North Texas leading 22-17, Southern Miss quickly added a pair of points but the Mean Green held firm and took the final set 25-21.
Dillard recorded a match-high 22 kills and collected 13 digs while Hanna Forst had 13 kills and 14 digs. Amy Henard guided the offense with 43 assists to go with 10 digs. Eboni Godfrey picked up a team-best 15 digs.
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