SAN MARCOS, Tx. — A sweep of the team’s first Sun Belt Conference road trip of the season was completed and Louisiana Volleyball vaulted into sole possession of first place in the SBC West Division by capturing a 3-1 (25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23) win over Texas State on Saturday at Strahan Arena.
The triumph, the program’s first-ever in San Marcos, was a perfect ending to a Homecoming night for first-year head coach Kristi Gray who grew up in nearby Wimberley and graduated and won a state championship in Strahan Arena.
The recipe for success for the Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4, 3-1 Sun Belt) was its trademark energy and fast offense which disrupted the Bobcats’ rhythm all night long, plus decisive advantages is key statistical categories including kills (49-42), aces (10-4), digs (69-60) and blocks (11-8).
Despite early leads by Texas State (6-11, 2-2 Sun Belt) in the first two sets, Louisiana controlled play in opening a commanding 2-0 lead. The team’s first timeout didn’t come until deep into the third set.
The Ragin’ Cajuns began to take over in the first set when a combo block from Coco Gillett and Cami Hicks forged a 9-all tie. Separation was ignited when Kara Barnes blasted a kill that jumpstarted a 5-0 run which opened an 18-11 advantage for Louisiana and Texas State got no closer than six points the remainder of the frame. Later it was back-to-back blocks from Hicks and Chinelo Ogogor that brought the lead to 23-14 and provided the exclamation point.
Louisiana worked its way back to a 6-all tie in the second set and later moved ahead 13-10 after a back-row kill by Bennett. The Bobcats rallied to take a brief 16-15 lead, but the Ragin’ Cajuns re-asserted control when Bennett joined Hicks on a block and Siena DeCambra served up an ace for an 18-16 lead.
The 2-0 match advantage was clinched when the Ragin’ Cajuns dominance at the net and service line provided back-to-back blocks and an ace that stretched the lead out to 22-17.
The rest of the night saw the two teams trade punches and play through 18 tied scores and 10 lead changes. The host-Bobcats were able to extend the contest with a set-ending 6-2 run to close out the third set.
Both squads swapped lengthy scoring runs early in the fourth set, the last a four-point run by the Ragin’ Cajuns that drew a 15-all tie. The last tie was created by a Bobcats service error, evening the set at 21-21 – then Louisiana took advantage to put the match away.
Gillett stepped up with back-to-back kills to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 23-21 lead, then after the Bobcats closed within a point, at 24-23, she clinched the match with yet another kill.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
The offense was paced by Bennett and Gillett who finished with 17 and 12 kills, respectively. They were the only two players in the match to reach double figures in kills, and combined they delivered nine kills in the decisive fourth set.
Bennett produced double digits in kills for the 11th time in 12 outings while Gillett extended her streak of consecutive double-digit kill matches to seven.
Louisiana’s prominence at the net was spearheaded by Hicks who posted a career-high nine blocks (1 BS, 8 BA). Hicks had a hand in seven blocks during the Ragin’ Cajuns run to a 2-0 match lead.
Reka Kotorman led a group of three Ragin’ Cajuns with multiple aces by registering three of her own. Bennett and Gillett each served up a pair of aces.
Hannah Ramirez scooped a team-best 17 digs and she was joined in double figures by DeCambra (16) and Bennett (15).
Kotorman (26 assists) and DeCambra (17 assists) combined for 43 assists in guiding the Ragin’ Cajuns offense to at least 12 kills in every set.
UP NEXTLouisiana returns home to Earl K. Long Gym for another weekend of Sun Belt West Division battles, meeting Arkansas State and Little Rock from Friday-Saturday, Oct. 8-9. The Ragin' Cajuns face the Red Wolves on Friday (Oct. 8) followed by a matchup with the Trojans on Saturday (Oct. 9). Both matches are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
The weekend set continues a stretch of five straight divisional matchups against SBC West foes that concludes on Tuesday, Oct. 12 in Monroe at ULM.
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