Photos by: Scarlett Gully
After losing four straight games on the road, the Golden Eagles grabbed a must-needed win at home in the Wellness Center Complex to start the Southern Miss Classic II against the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky University.
Kinsley Hanback put the Golden Eagles on the board first after the Colonels sent a dig into their bench. Eastern Kentucky did not let the first set get away from them, tying the game 9-9 through the beginning of the set on an Anna Purichia kill.
Afterward, the Eagles rallied five straight points to a 14-9 score that lead to an Eastern Kentucky timeout. Eastern Kentucky bounced back from the timeout and tacked on five straight points to tie the score at 15 all. Southern Miss would not take this comeback lightly. Kenzie Smith blocked, leading to another timeout by Eastern Kentucky at 21-17. Smith added another drop-in block that lead to a set point. In the next play, the Golden Eagles took the set after an attack error from the Colonels.
In the second set, the Golden Eagles took the lead 3-2 after a ricochetting kill from Wesley. Eastern Kentucky answered back to tie the score at six all. The Golden Eagles took control of the set at 13-8 after a spike by Wesley to left court. The Golden Eagles held this lead at 3 points at 19-16, after a service error by Sydney Schohen that led to a Colonel timeout.
Mia Wesley received a huge spike that deflected off the wall after an errant dig by Molly Michalak [led EKU with 11 kills on .148 hitting %] to push the score to 22-19. To end the set, true Freshman Cara Atkinson would receive a drop-in kill, which bounced off multiple Colonels in an unsuccessful attempt in getting the ball over the net. Southern Miss won the set 25-22.
Through two sets, Cara Atkinson [ .778 hitting percentage] and Mia Wesley were tied for seven kills, and Duquesne Moratzka and Atkinson led with four blocks.
With the third set underway, the Golden Eagles jumped to a 3-0 lead after back-to-back blocks by Wesley and Hanback. The Colonels answered back to move to within one point at 8-9 on a kill by Mikayla Logan, but Southern Miss rallied three points to lead to a 12-8 score and an Eastern Kentucky timeout.
Things began to look grim for the Colonels at 16-10, after a successful Golden Eagle challenge that led to an ace by Mia Wesley. At 20-12 down 0-2 in the match, the Colonels made one last push at winning the match, but to no avail. Moratzka [five kills, seven digs, and six blocks] got a block to set up a match point at 24-15. The Colonels would stop five match points with four consecutive blocks until Kinsley Hanback sent a kill to left court. Southern Miss took the set 25-20 to win the match 3-0 and move to 6-5 on the season to get their first win in five matches.
Wesley led the Eagles with 11 kills on a .214 hitting percentage. She also added one ace and three blocks. Cara Atkinson added seven kills on a .545 hitting percentage. On the defensive end, Moratzka lead the team with six blocks. To end Friday’s slate of matches Southern Miss will take on Lamar University at 7 pm. tonight.
After a delay due to a fifth set thriller between Eastern Kentucky and Chattanooga, The Golden Eagles looked to continue its undefeated streak at home to win six straight, and that they did against Lamar University.
“It’s really fun to perform in front of our home crowd. I’m really excited about the production. It’s impressive,” Head Coach Stephanie Radecki said.
The Golden Eagles jumped to an early 18-12 lead in the first set. Hanback got the fans out of their seats with a spike to center court. Lauren Talbert then added a soft touch to the ball for a kill to put the lead at 20-13.
The play led to a Cardinal timeout to potentially erase a seven-point deficit late in the set but Southern Miss finished out the set on a kill from Wesley.
In the second set, Hanback got the Golden Eagles off to an early start. Lamar tied the score 7 all on a spike from Emily Surin into right court. After being tied at 9 all, Southern Miss rallied off four straight points to lead 13-9. Atkinson’s spike forced the Cardinals to try to nullify the Golden Eagles’ run with a timeout.
Talbert [nine kills, six digs, one block and ace each, and two assists] kept the Golden Eagles’ lead at four 18-14 with another spike. Talbert continued to dominate the set with a spike to center court that the Cardinals could not handle, at 23-17.
“From switching back and forth from a defensive role to outside six rotation role, she [Lauren] has handled it well,” Radecki said. “I was really proud of her to come out and hit as well as she did.”
Mia Wesley slapped a spike to force set point as Talbert recorded an ace to close out the set. Southern Miss took the set 25-17.
Opening the third, the score stood at four all on a kill by Lamar’s Emily Surin as Lindsey Legg tried to dive to make a dig near the stands. Receiving back-to-back kills, Moratzka helped Southern Miss pull away at 13-10. Southern Miss stretched the lead to 18-13 with Atkinson’s spike, which deflected off a Lamar defender to drop in the backcourt.
To force match point, Lauren Talbert struck a kill into right court. Kinsley Hanback then followed to deliver match point to right court.
“The whole team played great today, and we were connecting on all cylinders,” Hanback said. “We’ve been talking about efficiency since last week and we were that today, and it was a lot of fun to play.”
Hanback ended the night with 10 kills on a .667 hitting percentage adding two digs and a block to her stat sheet. Moratzka led the Golden Eagles with 13 kills, adding two blocks.
As a team, Southern Miss held the Lamar Cardinals to a .194 hitting percentage on the night, while the Golden Eagles hit .394.
To wrap up the second Southern Miss Classic, Southern Miss will take on the Mockingbirds of Chattanooga at 1 p.m Saturday.