SAN MARCOS, TX — Building early leads each set, and hitting significantly higher than the previous two matchups, paid off for Arkansas State in a 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-12, 25-20, 15-7) win over Louisiana in the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Tournament opener at Strahan Arena.
Louisiana (14-16) was able to overcome the early Red Wolves leads in the opening two sets by hitting .366, fueling the rallies and building a 2-0 lead in the match.
Three key aces in the first set – the second from Milayne Danna which allowed Louisiana to keep the lead at 19-17 – solidified the first-set triumph. It the second set, it was the block combination of Celeste Darling and Tia Jade Smith which provided crucial tallies during the 16-7 set-ending run that completed another comeback.
Arkansas State (17-12) was able to reverse course by generating 37 kills off a .326 hitting percentage the remainder of the match, thus allowing the quick starts each frame to hold up. The Red Wolves were able to stay one step – and avoid significant lead changes – after building a 10-5 lead in the third set, a 12-6 edge in the fourth set and scoring the first six points of the winner-take-all frame.
ASU finished the match with a 70-56 advantage in kills, and more importantly hit .297 for the evening after hitting sub-.100 in each of the two regular season meetings.
The season came to an end for Louisiana after a strong push of nine wins in the last 10 regular season matches carried the squad to a runner-up finish in the SBC West and its spot in the conference tournament.