For the first time in nearly a year, the Southern Miss Volleyball returned to action. The Golden Eagles swept its doubleheader against Louisiana Tech to start its season.
Head Coach Stephanie Radecki described the experience of returning and playing for the first time in the new Wellness Center.
“It was a really fun day,” Radecki said. “We were really excited that our administrators allowed us to host this event today and this is the first time we played in the new facility. It was just exciting. I’ve said that word 100 times today[,] but it was just really fun for some of their parents to be able to watch and it was fun to be able to live stream it. They’ve worked so hard to be able to put this event on and it was really worth it.”
Though the volleyball game was closed to in-person viewing, the energy remained high. Southern Miss won its first game against the Bulldogs in four sets. The Golden Eagles dropped the first set, which was closely contested between the two teams. However, Southern Miss flipped a switch and won the next three sets in a row.
The biggest contributors to these victories were Southern Miss’s newcomers. Transfers and freshmen alike made an impact in their first game as Golden Eagles. Junior transfer Dequesne Moratzka recorded 16 kills and seven digs while another junior transfer, Lauren Talbert, notched 13 kills.
Southern Miss’s seniors also led the team in its first victory, building off years of experience and months of training. Libero Madison Lawler had 22 digs and setter Piper Matsumoto earned 43 assists.
Southern Miss returned later in the day for the second game against Louisiana Tech. The Golden Eagles picked up where they left off, winning the first set 25-17.
The Lady Techsters fought back and forth with the Golden Eagles in the second set, but pulled through to win 25-22. However, Southern Miss jumped to early leads in the next two sets to win the game again in four sets.
Moratzka finished the second game with a double-double, totalling 15 kills and 11 digs. Lauren Talbert also recorded a double-double, earning 11 kills and 16 digs. Setter Kenzie Smith earned 43 assists in the second game as well, showing off the team’s top-notch performances across the board.
Radecki says she was impressed with the team in their first game of the season and pointed out some individual performances that stood out to her.
“I think Duquesne really did a great job today[.] She was impressive,” Radecki said. “I [also] think Kinsley Hanback was really impressive. I think something that you wouldn’t necessarily see unless you’re at the matches is Kellie Garraway and her ability to come in as a serving sub and go on runs of points for our team. That made a huge impact in every set[,] so that was really nice to see.”
Radecki notes areas where she feels the team needs to improve, however.
“I think we need to make some adjustments a little bit faster,” Radecki said. “We were scored on quite a few times over the block and we eventually made that change and were able to shut down that option. We definitely have to make changes faster.”
While Southern Miss has not released a schedule for its upcoming season since Conference USA postponed their volleyball season to spring, Radecki describes the team’s outlook moving forward.
“We expect a lot out of this team,” Radecki said. “I think we have really good chemistry right now and we’ve seen some great things and so we’re just really excited to have the opportunity to compete again, even if it’s going to be a while. [We’re going to] just enjoy each other as a program and get better.”