VSU Volleyball Handles Argos

| October 22, 2014

rp_primary_KirkwoodVALDOSTA — For the first time since October 10, 2006, the Valdosta State volleyball team defeated the West Florida Argonauts with a thrilling 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-20, 27-25) victory in Gulf South Conference volleyball action at The Complex on Tuesday night.

The triumph marked the second of the season for the Blazers over a higher ranked GSC opponent and upped VSU’s record to 15-6 overall, 10-3 in league play. The Argonauts entered the match as the second place team in the conference, but after falling to 17-6 on the year and 10-3 in GSC play on Tuesday night, UWF now shares the second place position with Valdosta State.

As they have all season, VSU continued to shine on defense, and a flurry of tremendous digs by the team’s back row prevented the Argonauts from developing a rhythm, despite jumping out to an early lead in the third set.

With the match tied at 1-1, Head Coach Mike Swan elected to take a timeout after falling behind 5-1 to open up the third frame. The Blazers allowed UWF to push the lead to 6-1 following the timeout, but roared back with five straight points to tie the set back up at 6-6.

Later in the same set, VSU overcame a 16-18 deficit with seven straight points to break out into a 23-18 advantage. The Argonauts answered with two points of their own, but a service error by West Florida’s Corisha Smith set up set point for VSU. Jenna Kirkwood answered the call when she took an assist from fellow senior Jessica Codato and drove an attack into the opposing court for the deciding kill and a 2-1 lead in the contest.

The Blazers showed more resiliency in the fourth set, as they overcame a 12-17 deficit midway through the match before falling behind yet again 22-24. With the Argonauts needing just one kill to force a fifth set, Valdosta State used an attack error by the Argonauts sandwiched between two Kelsey Hedman kills to turn the tables and set themselves up with an opportunity to take the match. UWF’s Emily Cosgrove answered with a kill to knot the set up at 25-25, but Codato and Kirkwood teamed up for back-to-back kills and Valdosta State’s first win over the Argonauts in eight years.

“The huge rallies in games three and four were instrumental to our win in this important match,” said Swan. “Our defense was stellar from our back row players, and our blocking effort really shut down a great team late in the final set. We also got some huge kills from Jenna, Jessica, and our middle blockers down the stretch, and I really think the great crowd tonight willed us to keep playing tough. We are developing a lot of confidence in each other right now.”

Kirkwood, the reigning GSC Offensive Player of the Week led the way yet again on offense with 20 kills in 58 attempts, while Hedman added 10 kills and just two errors for a .296 average.

Ashley Lala lived up to her recent appointment as the GSC Defensive Player of the Week with another sparkling defensive effort that included 23 digs. In addition, freshman Sydney Chick added 15 digs, while Natalia Campos, Kirkwood, and Codato also all reached double-digit figures in the dig column.

Valdosta State will now look ahead to a weekend trip to Tennessee, where the squad will face Union on Friday at 8:00 p.m. EST, followed by Christian Brothers at 2:00 p.m. EST on Saturday.

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