Southern Miss split its weekend of conference play with a win against UAB on Friday, Nov. 2 and a loss against North Texas on Sunday, Nov. 4.
Southern Miss won in four sets against UAB (13-14, 5-8 C-USA) but was swept by North Texas (13-15, 9-3 C-USA) on Sunday.
Against UAB, Southern Miss had scores of 25-16, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23 in the four-set match. Despite dominating the opening set, the Blazers were able to set a comeback and almost forced a fifth set leading 19-15 in the fourth set. Despite UAB’s momentum, the Golden Eagles battled back and edged out UAB.
“I just feel like we didn’t give up in the fourth set,” Head Coach Stephanie Radecki said. “We are a team that struggles when were down in the deficit. They had confidence in the fact that they knew they could just pull away and finish that fourth set.”
Senior Kylie Grandy finished the game with 19 kills and senior Sarah Bell had 39 assists in the match.
North Texas proved to be a tough outing for Southern Miss. The Mean Green won with scores of 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 in the sweep over the Golden Eagles. Key to this was North Texas’ defense as it kept Grandy in check with just nine kills with the Mean Green holding Southern Miss to a .123 hitting percentage.
“One of the biggest things that we’ve talked about all year is that we need to work harder and I feel like North Texas worked harder than us and outplayed us and I feel like that should never happen,” Radecki said. “These girls work really hard and so a team should never out-play us.”
After the weekend Southern Miss is now at 14-13 overall record and a 6-6 record in conference, which puts the Golden Eagles in seventh place in Conference USA.
The top eight teams make the C-USA tournament, with Charlotte currently sitting in eighth place with a 15-14 overall record and a 5-8 record in conference. Sitting ahead of seventh-place Southern Miss is Florida International with a 15-11 record and a 7-5 conference record. Rice currently sits in first place with a 21-4 overall record and a 12-0 record in conference.
Southern Miss has just two conference games left in the season, which are road games against Louisiana Tech and North Texas.
For Southern Miss to have success in the final stretch of the season they have three main priorities. The first is to make sure Grandy, who leads the team with 457 kills, has the hot hand and consistently give her successful shots.
Secondly, Bell needs to continue to play stellar. Bell has had success throughout the whole season and has been crucial in keeping Southern Miss’ rallies alive.
Lastly, Southern Miss has to play like it did against UAB down the stretch, as the team has struggled in battling back from deficits throughout the season. These points are crucial if the team hopes to be a contender for the C-USA championship.