ARLINGTON, Texas – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Volleyball team secured the No. 3 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament and captured a 20-win regular season for the second time in the past four seasons with a 3-1 (25-19, 26-28, 25-22, 25-20) win over UTA on Sunday.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (20-10, 13-3 Sun Belt) also completed their first-ever season sweep of the Mavericks (13-16, 7-9 Sun Belt) and won for the first time in Arlington.
Louisiana’s hitting percentage was above .200 the entire match and the team’s blocking returned strong with a season-high 19 being thrown up of which several came late helping secure match point.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got on the board first, winning an offensive shootout in the first set by out-hitting the Mavericks .394-.265. UTA erased a 20-15 deficit in the second set and won in extra points to even the match.
It was Louisiana rallying in the third set, finishing with a 5-1 spurt, to reclaim the match lead. The Ragin’ Cajuns came up with six blocks over the final 10 rallies of the fourth set to complete a 15-4 set-ending run that locked up the match.
Louisiana begins play in the Sun Belt Tournament on Friday against the winner of the UTA-Appalachian State first round contest. First serve for the quarterfinal match is set for 5 p.m. from First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro, Ark.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Hali Wisnoskie provided the power on offense with 15 kills, marking her ninth match of double digits in SBC play and the 16th overall of her rookie campaign. She increased her season total to 308 becoming just the second Ragin’ Cajuns freshman to reach the 300-mark in the rally scoring era.
Nia Antoine was the lead blocker as she finished with a career-high 10 (1 BS, 9 BA). The total increased her season total to 100 which marks the first time she’s reached the plateau in her career.
Dree’Ana Abram provided 10 kills on 19 swings and had a hand in eight blocks.
Stacey Reilly scored eight kills and scooped nine digs to push her season totals in both categories over 300. The senior outside hitter picked up her second consecutive 300-300 season (had 387 kills, 347 digs in 2016).
Libero Sydney Davis reached 20 digs for the fourth time in the past five matches, ending the afternoon with a team-high 22. Freshman Avery Breaux joined her in double digits with 12.
Setter Jessica Bartczyszyn handed out 43 assists and added three kills, five digs and five blocks to her stat line. Bartczyszyn averaged above 10 assists per set for the eighth time in SBC play.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Both teams were hitting above .300 the majority of the opening set and as a result had played to a tie 10 times. After a 17-all tie, the Ragin’ Cajuns made the decisive move by netting four straight kills, two from Abram and one apiece from Bartczyszyn and Rovira, to forge ahead 21-17. The Mavericks hitting cooled off down the stretch, committing three attack errors, and they were unable to keep pace with Louisiana.
- Louisiana appeared headed for a 2-0 lead in the match holding a 20-15 edge in the second set. UTA rallied with five unanswered, the last three off service aces, to make the set up for grabs. The teams went to extra points after a missed UTA serve on set point. The hosts fought off set point at 25-24 and later broke a 26-all tie with back-to-back kills (Tessa Harfield, Kylie Jedlicka).
- UTA opened a 10-6 lead in the third set and Louisiana was forced to play catch up throughout. A 5-1 run later pulled the Ragin’ Cajuns out of a 14-10 deficit and into a tie. The Mavericks hold was broken at 21-20 when Louisiana got the equalizer off a Reilly kill, then executed back-to-back blocks, both involving Antoine, to take a 23-21 lead.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns attacking efficiency dropped in the fourth set and the Mavericks used it to their advantage leading 16-10 at one point. Louisiana, which had committed seven attack errors at that point, cleaned things up stormed back to slice the deficit to 18-17 prompting at UTA timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Ragin’ Cajuns executed four straight blocks and led 21-18. Still leading by three at 22-19, it was back-to-back blocks, with Abram leading the charge, that left no doubt in the outcome.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns senior class has been involved in both of the 20-win regular seasons the past four seasons. Back in 2014, led by the now-seniors who were freshmen, Louisiana finished 20-13 for the first 20-win season since 1990.
- Louisiana extended its school record for Sun Belt Conference victories in a single season to 13. The previous record was 11 set by the 2000 team (went 11-5).
- The Ragin’ Cajuns 19 blocks tied the program’s rally scoring era record that was reached on Sept. 27, 2002 at WKU. It marked the 14th time this season the team has reached double digits.
- Now at 308 kills, Hali Wisnsokie is 32 shy of equaling the most recorded by a Ragin’ Cajuns freshman in the rally scoring era (2001-present). Amie Goodwin, the other freshman to reach the mark in the rally era, holds the top mark with 340 in 2007.
- Sydney Davis’ 22 digs extended her active streak of consecutive matches with double digits to 15. Davis has scooped 20-plus 11 times this season.
- Sydney Davis is now up to 559 digs this season – her career-best total. She sits 41 away from joining Lindsay Brown (605 in 2010) as the only two players from eclipsing 600 digs in a single season.
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For more information on Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball, as well as all of Ragin' Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/ULVolleyball), Twitter (@RaginCajunsVB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsVB).