Warhawks split Sun Belt openers at home

Cameron Jett, [email protected]

Warhawks volleyball (5-12) began Sun Belt Conference action last week with a two-game home stretch against the Georgia State Panthers (3-9) and the Georgia Southern Eagles (8-3). ULM scored a 3-1 (20-25, 27-25, 25-18, 35-33) victory over the Panthers with a thrilling fourth set of action. The next day ULM fell in its matchup 3-1 (17-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22) against the Eagles. 

ULM had not met either of these Sun Belt opponents since the 2019 season and they only played a limited conference schedule in 2020.

“After the second set [against Georgia State] we looked at what we did well as far as finding our matchups on the outside and not overusing attackers we didn’t necessarily need to set,” head coach Charlie Olson said. 

ULM fought back into the fourth set against Georgia State after the Panthers reached set point leading 24-22. ULM scored the next three points to flip the script on the Panthers and the two teams swapped leads nine times through the remainder of the set. ULM put the Panthers in a terrible position and forced an attack error to seal the set 35-33. 

Cali Assaley set a four-set record for the Warhawks. Her 27 kills against the Panthers are the most in school history in a four-set game. Mariana Volponi e Giordan’s 49 assists are third all-time in school history for a four-set contest. 

ULM was initially stunned in the matchup. Georgia State caught fire late in the first set and stole the lead from ULM and kept the Warhawks offense from hitting their stride. 

The Panthers stole the first set 25-20. The Panthers’ great defense at the net threw off ULM for much of the contest and they finished with seven blocks. 

Georgia Southern entered the contest as one of the premier volleyball teams in the SBC. The Eagles sit in first place for the Sun Belt East Division and second overall. 

ULM struck first in the contest with a victory in set one. After this set, the two teams’ defenses set the pace for the rest of the contest. The Eagles convincingly took sets two and three but ULM kept it close in set four.

“I thought we fought well in the fourth,” Olson said. “We made an adjustment on our right side and that opened up some outside opportunities.”

ULM earned its way back into the game late in the fourth set. Great play by the Warhawks forced repeated attack errors to cut the Georgia Southern lead to 20-18. ULM closed their gap to just one point after a bad set by the Eagles. However, Georgia Southern closed out after reaching match point to win the contest 25-22.

 ULM sits in fourth place in the Sun Belt West Division standings after these two matchups. This weekend, ULM meets its first West Division opponents on the season. They face off with Texas State (5-9) on Friday and the University of Texas-Arlington (2-8) on Saturday as part of a two-game road trip.