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Volleyball Team Caps Off Season With 3-0 Win Over Tulane

Sarah Jane Bowden delivered 12 kills on a .526 hitting clip

Nov. 22, 2011

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss volleyball team capped off its fourth-straight winning season after posting a 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-19) sweep over Tulane Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles finished with a 17-15 record overall and 11-9 in league play while Tulane dropped to 9-22 and 4-16.

"This team was all about taking care of business tonight" coach Abbey Sutherland said. "We lost to Tulane in three earlier and didn't play well. We wanted to get back that loss and end the season on a high note with six seniors. I kept telling them to have fun, but I have to respect the fact that they were all about business and wanted to get it done. We did in three sets."

Seniors Sarah Jane Bowden and Ashley Mell led the way with 12 kills apiece. Setter Kelsea Seymour notched her 61st-career double-double with 34 assists and a team-high 13 digs. Libero Lisa Knecht finished the night with 12 digs and Elizabeth Rinaudo came up with 10 digs. Bowden collected four total blocks and moved into the top spot on the all-time block assists list after registering three.

Cori Martone led the Green Wave with 13 kills and Nikki Osuna had 12 digs.

"We really controlled the match and did a very good job defensively," Sutherland said. "SJ really stepped up and was involved in a lot of broken plays. She made some great things happen, was wonderful offensively and also got some great touches on the block defensively. I believe she is the most improved player of the season for sure."

Southern Miss ran out to a 4-0 lead to start the first set before Izabela Grot recorded a kill to end the Golden Eagle run. USM pushed the lead to 12-6 as the Eagles used five kills, a Seymour ace and a couple of Tulane errors during the stretch. Southern Miss was able to maintain the lead getting timely kills including kills by Halie Ecker and Seymour to force a Tulane timeout at 17-11. Out of the timeout, Tulane outscored USM 7-4 to cut the lead to 21-19. Out of the Southern Miss timeout, Bowden put down a kill for 22-19. Olivia Utt got a kill to keep the Green Wave within two, but two service errors and a hitting error by Tulane helped the Eagles take the first set, 25-21.

The Golden Eagles opened the second stanza scoring the first eight points and never looked back. USM tallied 17 kills on a .333 hitting clip and held Tulane to six kills and a .000 attack percentage. Bowden and Mell were responsible for 10 kills as USM took the second set 25-13.

The third set was an entirely different story for both squads as the lead changed hands three times and the score tied on eight occasions. The Green Wave took a 1-0 lead thanks to a Martone kill, but Mell answered with a kill to tie the set at 1-1. A Bowden kill and Tulane error would put the score at 3-1 for the Eagles. A Grace Weaver kill and Utt ace knotted the set again, 3-3. From there, the set would go back and forth totaling two ties before Southern Miss got back-to-back kills from Ecker and Seymour for the 7-5 lead. The teams traded points until Tulane put together a 4-0 run for an 11-9 lead. Southern Miss bounced right back to score the next five points courtesy of a Bowden kill, three Tulane errors and a Seymour kill for the 14-11 lead and a Tulane timeout. Out of the timeout, Martone collected a kill and a Southern Miss error cut the lead to 14-13. From there, the teams went back and forth battling to a 17-17 tie. Kills from Ecker and Mell gave USM a 19-17 advantage. A USM service error got the Green Wave within 19-18 before USM ended the set on a 6-1 run for the 25-19 win.

Southern Miss outhit Tulane .250 to .063 and totaled 43 kills to 29 for the Green Wave. The final two block assists by Bowden pushed her past Bridget Files for the all-time lead in block assists with 350.

"What a great way for our seniors to go out," Sutherland said. "I love their passion for this program and for the game. They play because they love the game, but also because they love Southern Miss volleyball and they wanted to make a statement with their class and they did. They are leaving this program better than when they found it."

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