Posted: Oct 20, 2012 10:58 PM by UL Sports Information
TROY, Ala. - With a 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 26-24) win over Troy here Saturday morning at Sartain Hall, the Ragin' Cajuns volleyball team matched its season-best win streak and halted the Trojans steady ascent up the Sun Belt standings.
The Ragin' Cajuns (14-11, 5-4 Sun Belt) were able to capture their fourth consecutive victory with a powerful offensive attack (16.25 kills per set) and strong defensive presence (12 blocks and 19.5 digs per set).
Louisiana posted its first win in five attempts at Sartain Hall, kept pace with UALR in the SBC West standings and moved into the top half of the seed projections for the upcoming SBC Tournament.
The Cajuns snapped a four-match win streak that the Trojans (16-9, 7-3 Sun Belt) carried into the 9:30 a.m. contest and pulled the Trojans back to the pack in the race for SBC Tournament seeds. UL became only the second team this season to capture a victory at Sartain Hall, joining SEC-member Auburn as the only team's to take down the Trojans on their home floor in 2012.
The Ragin' Cajuns departed Troy following the match to travel two hours south on Interstate 65 to Mobile to prepare for a Sunday matinee with South Alabama (12-11, 5-4 Sun Belt). First serve at Jaguar Gym is set for 1 p.m.
Head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot's team defeated Troy in the same workman-like fashion that's been featured on the current win streak.
Like the UALR match, the Cajuns' strength in numbers was the difference. Louisiana was able to set up five different attackers for 20-plus attempts. Blair Claypoole's 13 kills on 40 attempts and Lavinia Tataran's 12 kills on 43 attempts paced a balanced effort that saw seven different Cajuns tally five kills or more.
And like the UALR match, the Cajuns didn't try to shut down the opposing team's featured players...just contain them. Troy's Blair Winston got her kills, finishing with four per set, but her counterpart in the Trojans' offense, Kayla Pickart, landed only 2.25 kills per set which was well below her Sun Belt average of 3.75 kills per set.
A total of 16 service errors, and two outsider hitters finishing with a negative hitting percentage, would spell doom for most teams. The Cajuns, though, were able to overcome those faults which made the set scores closer than the stats indicated.
"We played well enough to win," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "Mandi (Gavin) did an outstanding job and our blocking and defense stole the show.
"We had some hitters struggle a bit, but Mandi did an awesome job finding the player with the ‘hot hand' at the right time. Kaylee (Nemeth) was great at the time when we needed her and our defense came up with some really tough plays. A total team effort led us to this victory."
Gavin passed out 53 assists and 12 total digs for her seventh double-double. The preseason All-Sun Belt selection continued her MVP-style effort adding five kills, a block solo and three block assists.
Claypoole's team-best 13 kills signified her eighth match in double figures and third consecutive dating back to last Saturday. Tataran registered her 12th match in double figures with 12 kills, increasing her season average to 2.63 kills per set.
Kaylee Nemeth excelled in a "spot" role, subbing in over the course of the match and throwing down eight kills on only 14 attempts.
Libero Caitlyn Auxilien out-performed Troy libero Courtney Cohen with 20 digs (Cohen had 17). Auxilien posted her 20th outing of double digits and inched closer to becoming only the third player in the rally scoring era to amass 400-plus digs in a single season (currently has 377). It was Auxilien's highest output since 22 digs at North Texas on Sept. 22.
UL just missed out on a fourth straight match hitting above .200, ending the contest at .192 (65 kills, 28 errors, 193 attemtps). Louisiana did hold the opposition below .200 for the sixth straight match as Troy was held to a .123 hitting percentage - the lowest for the Trojans since hitting .040 at Western Kentucky on Sept. 21.
The Cajuns dominated on offense with a 65-48 advantage in kills. The defense, in large part due to 78 digs and 12 blocks, held the Trojans to a meager 12 kills per set. Troy was averaging 14.03 kills per set in SBC play.
UL out-hit Troy in all but one set - the 25-21 Trojans win in the second set - and limited the Trojans below .100 hitting in the critical third and fourth stanzas.
Louisiana was able to fend off the Trojans despite registering only one service ace. Five players in double figures in digs pulled the team through.
The opening set was close early as the two sides were tied nine different times, including at 17-17. The Cajuns pulled ahead to stay starting with kills from Kelly Wiesmann and Claypoole. An attack error by Breanna Cullity gave UL a three-point edge and a Nemeth kill 10 rallies later secured set point.
Louisiana hit a sparkling .318, had 20 kills and sported a 72 percent success rate in sideouts in claiming an early lead in the match.
Troy bounced back in the second set, holding the Cajuns to a .176 attack percentage while building an 18-10 lead. Louisiana would cut the lead to 18-14 before a Troy timeout was followed by two Trojan points for a 20-14 lead. Troy went on to take the set, 25-21, to tie the match up.
The third and fourth sets turned out to be barnburners as the teams went after each other with their defense. In the third set there were a combined 102 attack attempts and the fourth set featured a combined 112 attack attempts. Troy picked up 58 digs to the Cajuns 53' digs over the final two stanzas.
Tied at 21-all, Nemeth stepped up big for UL in the third set. She tallied two key kills - one at 22-21 and the other at 23-22 - to keep the Cajuns ahead. A Lucy Cikra kill cut Troy's deficit to 24-23, but UL avoided going past 25 points when the defense forced Cikra to hit into an attack error.
The Cajuns were forced to play from behind the entire fourth set as Troy scored the first three points and held on to the lead until Louisiana scored a rally with the set knotted at 24-all.
Facing the possibility of a fifth set by trailing 24-23, the Cajuns received a Tonice White kill to extend the set. Auxilien then served up back-to-back points - both Trojans attack errors - to seal up the match in four sets.