Owls Bounce Back To Down South Alabama In Five Sets

Owls Bounce Back To Down South Alabama In Five Sets

KENNESAW, Ga. (ksuowls.com) - Trailing 2-1, the Kennesaw State volleyball team dug deep to grind out a five-set victory over South Alabama, 21-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-21, 15-7, in Saturday night's Owl Invitational finale.

Three Owls finished the night with double-digit kills, led by Lauren Chastang's seventh double-double of the season, holding the Jaguars to a -0.227 hitting percentage in the fifth set to win the match.

How it Happened: The tempo was set early as KSU (6-3) and South Alabama (4-5) traded points to open the match. Tied 9-9, the Jaguars took control with a 6-0 run, which featured three kills form USA's Kelley Hartman, to lead 14-9. The Owls clawed their way back to within one, 19-18, after back-to-back kills from Lexi Broadwater and Lanie Vantrease followed by an ace from Chastang. That would be as close as KSU would get, though, as South Alabama recorded four of the final six points to win the opening set, 25-21.

The second set began the same way with USA holding a 7-5 advantage. Tied 9-9 once again, the two squads went point-for-point until a 5-0 run from South Alabama gave the Jaguars a 19-17 lead. KSU pulled back in front following a 4-1 run of its own to lead 23-22. Back-to-back errors from the Owls gave South Alabama set point, but KSU was able to fend it off with a kill from Madeline Johnson, followed by a block from Jasmine Brown and Broadwater and a kill from Dani Ballou to win the set and even the match 1-1.

South Alabama fought back in the third set, taking a 9-5 lead. The Jaguars extended their lead to as high as 16-9 in the set after a 5-0 run. USA managed to hold KSU at bay throughout most of the set, but the Owls rallied to within one, 22-21, thanks to a 5-0 run which featured three kills from Ballou as well as a block and a kill from Brown. South Alabama managed to put an end to the comeback with back-to-back kills to end the set, 25-22.

After trading runs to open the fourth set, South Alabama gained the edge, 12-9, before the Owls responded with a 7-0 run to pull in front 16-12. The Jaguars chipped away at KSU's lead to cut the deficit down to one, 21-20, but the Owls shut the door with a 4-1 swing, featuring two kills from Brown, a kill from Ballou and a thunderous kill from Emma Schurfranz to clinch the set victory, 25-21.

The fifth set was all KSU as the Owls jumped out to a 5-1 lead early, thanks in part to two aces from Karlee Groover. The two squads traded points with South Alabama cutting the Owls lead to two, 8-6. The Owls then took advantage of South Alabama's miscues to go on a 7-1 run with Brown hammering down back-to-back kills to secure the 15-7 set win and match victory.

Notes: Lauren Chastang recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 22 kills and 16 digs while hitting .375 for the match ... Chastang's 22 kills marks the second time this season she has recorded 20 or more kills ... Jasmine Brown logged a career-high 14 kills while adding five blocks ... Emma Schurfranz was the third Owl in double-figures with 10 kills, her fifth match with 10 or more kills and third of the last four ... Lexi Broadwater had 60 assists on the night, her second match this year with 60 or more assists ... KSU logged a season-high 12 blocks with Brown recording five and Quin Sutphin logging six ... Karlee Groover had her second straight match, third of the last four, with 20 or more digs, finishing with a team-high 24 ... Dani Ballou added eight kills in the match while Madeline Johnson and Sutphin added six and five, respectively ... As a team, the Owls hit .276 in the match, marking only the second time this year KSU has hit over .250 ... KSU recorded 10 aces to mark the third time in the last four matches the Owls have logged 10 or more aces.

Quotes: Head Coach Keith Schunzel
On the turnaround from last night to tonight...
"I'm really proud of our team for two main reasons tonight. First, we stunk up the joint last night and played a pretty poor overall match. the players weren't happy about it, and the staff wasn't happy about it. So for us to mentally reset, hit almost .300 as a team, and whether we won or lost, to play at a much higher level is a great thing. Secondly, I'm super proud because South Alabama played very, very well for three sets. Their offense is lightning fast and they served and passed better than we did to go up 2-1 in the match. But we stayed the course, as our team has done a number of times this year, our players made some great adjustments with their serve, block and defense, and we played two strong sets to comeback and win in five." 

Up next: The Owls hit the road to open a four-match road swing, heading to Tuscaloosa to take on SEC foe Alabama Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.