Southern Miss splits on UTEP roadtrip

Red-shirt Sophomore Shelby Russell goes for the ball during a Southern Miss home game during October of this season. -Courtesy Photo
Red-shirt Sophomore Shelby Russell goes for the ball during a Southern Miss home game during October of this season. -Courtesy Photo

Southern Miss traveled to El Paso, Texas, on Friday, remaining hot in Conference USA play, defeating the Miners in four sets, 3-1.

USM improved to 19-9 overall and 8-3 in conference play, while UTEP dropped 4-18 overall and 2-9 in conference play. The Golden Eagles outhit the Miners with a .196 hitting percentage to UTEP’s .158. Southern Miss finished the game with 15 kills, 69 digs with eight aces.

In the first set, the teams were neck-and-neck tied at 9-9 until USM went on an 11-point run, giving the Golden Eagles a 17-9 lead. Three attack errors were committed by UTEP during the scoring frenzy. USM stayed ahead by at least six points throughout the rest of the set, winning 25-17 on a Chanel Joyce kill.

Despite losing the first set, UTEP took an early 7-1 lead over USM in the second set. The Golden Eagles could not keep up with their opponent’s scoring and only came as close as three points the rest of the game. USM’s 10 attack errors in set two resulted in a 25-17 loss.

The Golden Eagles were determined to get ahead on the third set. It remained close with four ties throughout the set. At 20-20, Southern Miss was able to pull away with a 5-0 run, winning the third set 25-20. Stephany Purdue was credited with five kills.

UTEP had a strong start to the fourth set on top of the Golden Eagles 9-4. A kill by USM’s Elise Ames was the spark they needed to get their scoring on a roll.

Southern Miss tied the game 10-10, took the lead, and won set four 25-21. The match victory was USM’s third in a row. Jasmine Crowell and Purdue led the Golden Eagles with 13 kills apiece.

On Sunday, the Golden Eagles traveled to San Antonio where the UTSA Roadrunners swept USM in three sets. Southern Miss finished with 31 kills, 40 digs and a .041 hitting percentage. Quinci Heyward led the Golden Eagles with 12 kills and Mary Pursell had 20 digs.

UTSA raced to a quick 5-0 lead over USM in the first set. The Golden Eagles were unable to create any offensive momentum to keep them in the game. They came as close as three behind the Roadrunners with a Jasmine Crowell kill making the score 12-9., but it was not enough as UTSA took match one 25-16.

The Golden Eagles came back hot in match two, leading over UTSA 11-6 aided by two Chanel Joyce kills and USM forced many the Roadrunners into several errors. A UTSA kill evened the scored back at 15-all. The game was tied three more times before UTSA ran away with a 25-22 victory. There were five attack errors made by USM in crunch time.

Match three was one the Golden Eagles would like to forget. Six consecutive attack errors committed by USM gave UTSA an early 8-3 advantage. The Roadrunners led by as much as 16-5 when Southern Miss called a timeout to slow down the momentum. Nine kills during the rest of the game for UTSA capped off a 25-13 sweep at home.

USM’s overall record now stands at 19-10 with an 8-4 C-USA record. Southern Miss looks to bounce back at home taking on two C-USA opponents, Western Kentucky on Nov. 7 and Florida Atlantic on Nov. 9.