Owls Come From Behind To Down JSU In Five Sets

Owls Come From Behind To Down JSU In Five Sets

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TROY, Ala. – The Kennesaw State volleyball team rallied from two sets down to defeat Jacksonville State, 23-25, 23-25, 25-12, 25-20, 15-13, and complete the tournament sweep to close out non-conference play Saturday afternoon.

How it happened: The Owls (9-4) jumped out to an early 4-1 lead to open the match, but Jacksonville State (7-5) answered with an 8-1 run to take a 9-5 advantage.  The Owls fought their way back late, thanks to a trio of JSU errors, to tie the set 20-20. 

The Gamecocks pulled away to earn set point, 24-21, forcing KSU to fend off two straight set points. JSU managed to record the final kill before the Owls could tie it up to win the set, 25-23.

Both teams went point-for-point in the second set, deadlocked at 18-18. The Owls gained some breathing room off a 3-1 run, leading 21-19. The Gamecocks responded, recording six of the final eight points to win the set, 25-23, and take a 2-0 lead heading into intermission.

The Owls adjusted and came out of the break fired up, taking a 5-1 lead to open the third set. KSU pushed its lead to as high as 14-3 following a 6-0 run capped off by a kill from Lauren Chastang

An ace from freshman Kaylee Morris put the Owls on the doorstep, 24-10, capping off another 6-0 run. Freshman Dani Ballou put the nail in the coffin with a kill to give KSU the set win, 25-12. KSU hit an impressive .400 percent in the third set.

Looking to force a fifth set, KSU rallied to take an early lead following a 6-0 run capped off by a block from Sydni Shelton and Quin Sutphin to make it 7-5. The Owls and Gamecocks traded points until back-to-back errors from JSU sparked a 5-0 run for KSU to lead 17-13. JSU pulled within three, 21-18, but KSU shut the door behind two kills from Shelton and one from Liesl Engelbrecht to force a fifth set.

In the final set, Chastang put the team on her back, ripping off five straight kills as the Owls took a 7-0 lead. The Gamecocks would answer with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the set, 9-9. After trading points, an error from Jacksonville State tied the match at 13-13. An ace from Karla Radillo followed by a block from Lexi Broadwater and Engelbrecht sealed the match victory.

All-Tournament: Sophomore Lauren Chastang was named the Troy Classic MVP after leading the team with 41 kills over the three-match span. She recorded 13 or more kills in every match, recording a double-double in the tournament opener against Florida A&M (14 kills, 11 digs). Chastang finished the tournament hitting .234 percent while helping the Owls clinch the win over Jacksonville State with five kills to open the final set.

Senior Sydni Shelton and sophomore Karlee Groover were named to the All-Tournament Team. Shelton hit .342 percent for the tournament with 34 kills, 19 in the match against JSU. Shelton also added 13 blocks throughout the tournament. Groover was a major key in the Owls defense, racking up 55 digs during tournament play. She averaged 4.23 digs per set and added 12 assists to her tournament total.

Notes: Senior Sydni Shelton was dominant throughout the match, leading the team with a season-high 19 kills and hitting a blazing .500 percent … Lauren Chastang's double-digit kill streak now stands at 11 after recording 14 kills against the Gamecocks … Quin Sutphin led the team with six blocks, bringing her total for the past two matches to 14 blocks … Lexi Broadwater recorded her second double-double of the tournament, fourth of the season, with 48 assists and 10 digs … Karlee Groover had her second straight match with 20 or more digs, fourth of the season, finishing with 20 digs … The Owls are now 4-2 in five set matches, recording back-to-back victories.

Quotes: Head Coach Keith Schunzel
On the five-set comeback win…
"To come back from a two set deficit against any team is really hard, so I couldn't be prouder of our players for staying calm and staying the course. Jacksonville State outplayed us in the first two sets so they deserved to be in that position."

On who stood out…
"Huge matches by Sydni Shelton and Lauren Chastang who both led us offensively. And we again got major contributions from Jessie CohenKaylee Morris and Karla Radillo, who are all doing a terrific job of being aggressive and helping us score points from behind the service line."

On the team's rollercoaster play…
"As a coach it's clear as day we need to keep working to achieve more consistent play. We can play at such a high level, but then we can also drop to a level quite a bit lower than what the talent on this team warrants. It's my job to figure that out, and we will, because we're a dangerous team when playing at the level we're capable of."

Up Next: The Owls open conference play at NJIT, traveling to New Jersey Friday (Sept. 21) to take on the Highlanders at 6 p.m.