Golden Eagles Trek to Tuscaloosa for Bama Bash

Sept. 8, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team will play its third tournament of the season when it heads northeast to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the Hampton Inn Bama Bash Friday and Saturday.

The Golden Eagles (6-2) will face Lehigh at 1 p.m. and Alabama at 7 p.m. on Saturday, with the latter airing on WatchESPN, before concluding their action Saturday at 2 p.m. against Northwestern State.

The squad will look to avenge its five-set defeat Tuesday at South Alabama that snapped a four-match winning streak. That same day, senior outside hitter Stephany Purdue was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week. It was the second weekly league honor Southern Miss had received in as many weeks (Catherine Repsher as Freshman of the Week).

Purdue's 4.4 kills per set lead C-USA and are also No. 30 nationally. Sarah Bell is also 20th in the nation with her 11.29 assists per set. Grandy on Tuesday lost her 10-match service ace streak, but her 16 on the year still puts her sixth.

Southern Miss swept the four-match Bama Bash in 2015. It began with 3-0 decisions over College of Charleston and Northwestern State the first day, then finished with 3-2 and 3-1 victories against Alabama and Tulsa, respectively.

It was a banner day for several Golden Eagles in that 2015 Alabama meeting. Purdue boasted 23 kills, while Kylie Grandy and Kelsey Chambers (.360 hitting percentage) each had 12. Sarah Bell added 53 assists. Four reached double-figures in digs, led by Mary Pursell's astounding 31.

The Golden Eagles have swept six tournaments in head coach Amanda Berkley's four years. The previous weekend saw Southern Miss sweep Virginia and UConn on Friday before winning 28-26 in the fourth set against host LSU that won it the championship. Purdue won Tournament MVP honors, while Bell and Chanel Joyce also took home recognition.

About the Field
The host Crimson Tide enter the weekend 5-2, most recently taking two of their three Puerto Rico Classic contests. Alabama defeated Virginia Tech (3-2) and Temple (3-1) while falling in five sets to No. 16 Florida State in between. One of their two seniors, Krystal Rivers, has 154 kills on the year (5.13 per set).

Northwestern State is 4-5 after splitting four matches at the UAB/Samford Tournament. They have also notched wins over UL Lafayette and UL Monroe. Natalie Jaeger's 8.27 assists per set leads the team. Southern Miss has won each of the past two years' matchups.

Southern Miss has never played Lehigh, and the Mountain Hawks are 3-3 on the year. They recently hosted a tournament and closed out the action with sweeps of Saint Peter's and Fairleigh Dickinson. Kelly Bennett holds a .339 hitting percentage on 54 kills and leads the team with 17 blocks as well.

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