USM wins Big Daddy’s Invitational Tournament

The Southern Miss volleyball team improved to 9-2 as they swept the Big Daddy’s Invitational Tournament at McNeese State. Southern Miss closed the weekend with a 3-0 sweep against Texas Pan-American, one of three sweeps for the Eagles in Lake Charles, La.

USM’s victory (25-16, 25-14, 25-19) was certainly a team effort as Quinci Hayward, Stephany Purdue and Elise Ames combined for 31 kills. Alex Pfefferle and Mary Pursell got eight digs in this match while setter Kristen Fleming recorded three kills, four digs and 25 assists.

UTPA made the first set of the match competitive, never allowing the Eagles to get a lead. After tying 9-9, a Pan-American attack error and a Stephany Purdue kill gave Southern Miss its first solid lead of the match. Though the Broncs tied the set again at 13-13, USM would go on to win it 25-16.

The final two sets were easier, as USM never trailed and UTPA continued to make errors. Eventually the score was 24-11, and while the Broncs managed to fight off three of USM’s set points, Katie Steelman got the kill that would win USM’s second set.

In the third set, USM finished strong despite allowing UTPA to score 19 points.

In defeating UTPA on Saturday, Southern Miss became the Big Daddy’s Invitational Champions. Quinci Hayward was named the tournament’s MVP, with 55 total kills, and both Ames and Fleming were added to the All-Tournament Team.

In 13 sets, the Golden Eagles only lost one of them in a win over McNeese State. The Eagles also outscored their opponents 328-256 in this tournament.

The match against McNeese State was the toughest (30-28, 25-16, 22-25, 25-13) by far. The Cowgirls started with an 8-4 lead in the first set, but the Eagles came back to win in a close 30-28 win. In their third set, the Eagles tied it at 8-8 before the Cowgirls took off for a 25-22 win.

In USM’s 3-1 victory over McNeese State both Hayward and Purdue scored 17 kills each while Fleming recorded a season-high 60 assists.

“I’m really proud of the team and the way they battled all weekend,” Coach Amanda Berkley of USM said. “This was a team effort as every player who played did a good job of staying focused and taking care of business.”

The Golden Eagles’ next match is against Northwestern State on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Their next home match will not be until Oct. 4 when the Eagles take on new conference foe North Texas.