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The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Kearns, team seek to keep momentum

Dezmond Jackson

 ULM volleyball is back in season, but it hasn’t been the smoothest start for new head coach Matt Kearns.

During the EIU Panther Classic, ULM suffered two tough 3-0 shutouts, only scoring 20 or more points in a single set against both Eastern Illinois and Valparaiso. After a nail-biting fifth set versus Akron that ended with the Warhawks winning 17-15, Kearns earned his first career win.

Unfortunately for the Warhawks, the festivities were short-lived as the team traveled to Grambling and lost 3-2 after a back-and-forth fifth set.

The Warhawks suffered another brutal weekend invitational at the start of September, the Lindenwood Invitational, in which the team only brought a single match to a set five, their 3-2 loss against Austin Peay. Both 3-1 losses, Indiana State and Lindenwood, had solid set three victories, and their dropped sets were by no more than four points every time, save for an ugly 25-14 set four against Lindenwood.

ULM’s trip to Jackson State looked to be another win for Kearns and the Warhawks after a beautiful 25-18 set one and an even better 25-15 set two. Despite the team’s momentum, Jackson State took the next three sets and subsequently the match.

The most recent tournament, the New Orleans Invitational, featured vast improvement for the team, including the first-ever sweep for coach Kearns.

The first set against Southern saw ULM and Southern stay relatively even until a kill by Taylor Thomas, an attack error on Southern and a service ace by Maddie Peterson helped ULM soar to 19-14. Just as quickly, Southern went on a seven-point run to pull ahead 21-19. After both teams scored one each, ULM closed the set with a five-point run and a won set.

Set two slowed the pace, with neither team going on runs of more than four points. ULM scored faster than Southern could return the favor, and set two belonged to the Warhawks.

ULM pressed the Jaguars on the third set, going on four separate three-point runs and ending with a statement six-point closing run.

The University of New Orleans faced ULM as its second opponent of the tournament, and it gave the Warhawks their third win of the season.

The Privateers found success early and frequently in set one, going on two different three-point runs before ULM closed the gap with a run of its own to tie the set at 9-9. Both teams took turns going on scoring runs before UNO scored six consecutive points to land at 24-18. Two kills by the Warhawks only postponed the Privateers taking the first set 25-20.

Opening the set with a four-point run, the Warhawks also had a milestone to celebrate. In scoring the third point, sophomore setter Bailey Roberson secured her 1,000th assist. Of the four points in that run, three were kills by Logan Jeffus set by Bailey Roberson.

UNO slowly crept ahead of ULM, reaching a lead of 16-14, until the spotlight duo Roberson and Jeffus sparked a six-point run to pull ahead. Two ULM attack errors and a kill by UNO weren’t enough to spoil a dominant end to the second set, with ULM reaching 25-19 off a service ace by Cameron Rogers.

Set three didn’t have any vast jumps in lead, with each team always being within three points of the other. That changed when Brynn Botkin had two kills, each from Morgan Howard, and UNO had both a ball handling error and an attacking error.

A brief UNO kill paused the momentum, but ULM rolled right back into another four-point run, with the Privateers returning the favor with one of their own. Another kill by Botkin and a ball handling error by UNO finished off the third set in favor of ULM.

The Warhawks stunned the Privateers to start the fourth set, making up for an attack error with a monstrous nine-point run, complete with three service aces courtesy of Molly Kehoe.

ULM responded with multiple points for every UNO score, at one point being up 21-9. A back-and-forth finale ended in a service ace by Ava Kennon and a bad set by UNO, giving the Warhawks a 4-1 win over the Privateers and sending the team off with two more match wins.

Next weekend, the Warhawks head to Natchitoches to play their last tournament of the season, the Battle for the Boot, to face in-state foes, Southeastern, Southern and Northwestern State. Last year’s Battle for the Boot had ULM dominate Southern 3-0, fall to Southeastern 3-0 and edge Northwestern 3-2.

The Warhawks will then entertain McNeese before starting conference play at Texas State.

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