LAFAYETTE — The regular season’s final match for Louisiana Volleyball featured a similar ending to how the weekend started, as Texas State bounced back from an early match deficit to post a 3-1 (24-26, 25-16, 25-14, 25-22) win on Saturday at Earl K. Long Gym.
One night removed from UT Arlington rallying from a 2-0 match deficit, the Ragin’ Cajuns (14-10, 9-7 Sun Belt) took the opening set only to see the Bobcats (18-11, 14-2 Sun Belt) claim three straight sets to collect the victory.
Louisiana, the last team to defeat Texas State back on Oct. 2, handed the visitors just their third set defeat during their current winning streak by outhitting the Bobcats .257-.231 in the 26-24 Set 1 triumph.
The Ragin’ Cajuns battled through 13 ties and four lead changes to grab their early lead. Early runs were traded as the Bobcats used a 7-2 run after Louisiana scored the first three points of the frame, then later it was a 6-3 run that gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 15-14 lead at the media timeout.
After bouncing back from a 20-18 deficit, Louisiana wrestled control from Texas State after a Reka Kotorman ace provided a 23-22 lead. After trading points, which led to the set going to extra points, it was back-to-back Kelsey Bennett kills that secured set point for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
The response was quick from Texas State and led to a sharp turn in momentum. The visitors jumped out to leads of 4-0 and 5-0 in Sets 2 and 3, never trailing in taking over the match lead.
Louisiana used 15 kills on a .268 percentage to make a push at extending the match. Three kills came during a five-point run that trimmed a once seven-point lead by Texas State down to 13-11.
The Bobcats extended the lead back out to five points twice, but the Ragin’ Cajuns continued to battle and closed the deficit to 23-21 on a Kara Barnes and Emery Judkins combo block.
Texas State avenged a four-set loss to Louisiana in San Marcos largely in part to outsider hitter Janell Fitzgerald’s 17 kills. In the October meeting at Strahan Arena, Fitzgerald was limited to three kills.
The loss kept the Ragin’ Cajuns from finalizing their seed for the Nov. 18-21 Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The team will be either the No. 2 seed (with UTA loss) or No. 3 seed (with UTA win) out of the SBC West dependent upon the outcome of Sunday’s UT Arlington-ULM match in Monroe.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Coco Gillett topped Louisiana’s offensive efforts for the second straight night with 14 kills off 38 swings, increasing her season total to 271 kills which moves her closer to the 300-mark entering the Sun Belt Tournament.
Gillett scooped 13 digs leading to her eighth double-double of the season, and second of the weekend.
Bennett had a hand in several areas as she provided 12 kills, two assists, 14 digs and three block assists. She landed her team-leading 15th double-double of the season and stretched out her first collegiate 300-300 season of kills and digs to career-high totals of 357 kills and 320 digs.
Barnes rebounded from Friday’s offensive struggles by tallying seven kills on a .385. Fellow middle blocker Cami Hicks posted a match-high four blocks.
Judkins (six kills) and Chinelo Ogogor (four kills) combined for 10 kills for the Ragin’ Cajuns hitting from the right side.
Siena DeCambra and Kotorman ran the 6-2 attack with a near even distribution of assists, finishing with 20 and 16 respectively.
Jordan Valley was the third Ragin’ Cajun to each double figures in digs as she collected 14 digs to tie Bennett for team-high honors.
Louisiana travels to Foley, Ala., for the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Tournament being held from Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 18-21 at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex.
The Ragin' Cajuns seed for the event, as well as the date and time for the squad's first match, will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 14 following the conclusion of regular season play.
The Sun Belt's postseason event is back in Foley for the second straight season. All 12 teams will compete for the league's automatic bid with every match broadcast live via ESPN+.
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