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Match 2 changes not enough for ULM

Match 2 changes not enough for ULM
Dezmond Jackson

Despite improvement between the first and second matches, ULM’s 35-match conference loss streak continues at the hands of the Jaguars of South Alabama.

The Warhawks hosted USA (13-3 overall, 4-0 in conference) for their first home match of the season on Thursday and Friday.

ULM held its own at the beginning of Thursday’s set one, but after tying at 7-7, the Jaguars went on a 5-point run. Both teams took turns scoring fairly evenly, but the lead proved to be enough for USA to take the first set 25-19.

Set two opened with another 5-point run by the Jaguars. ULM’s offense couldn’t keep up, falling behind 10-3 early on. A 3-point run by ULM helped to halt the opponents’ momentum, but USA quickly recovered and traded with the Warhawks, capping off the 25-14 set win with a 4-point run.

The third set highlighted the Warhawks’ tenacity. The team maintained a close deficit to the Jaguars and tied at 9-9. A 4-point run by the Jaguars appeared to be the nail in the coffin for the Warhawks, but a late 5-point run evened both teams at 21-21. The two teams traded 3-point runs to push to 24-24, but two kills by the Jaguars sealed the set and the match.

“We were out of position a lot, and it’s hard for the non-volleyball viewer to see where you’re supposed to be and where you’re not,” coach Kearns said. “Really, there’s no right answer, but you do have to be in a spot that your teammates can rely on you being in a lot of the time. We were not very reliable defenders. We were just kind of doing our own thing in our own spots.”

Friday’s match demonstrated a drastic improvement by ULM. In set one, both teams traded points, but the Warhawks took a 10-9 lead thanks to a 4-point run and continued to hold it. A 5-point run by the Jaguars put ULM on its heels, but the team continued to push, tying the match at 26-26. Once again, a pair of kills brought the set to an end.

Set two mimicked the first, but ULM finally found its rhythm and outpaced USA in point-scoring. A 3-point run by the Jaguars looked to steal the set, the Warhawks leading 23-22, but a kill by Brynn Botkin and an attack error by the Jaguars gave ULM its first set win at home.

“The players were really receptive to feedback. It’s hard when you’re watching film as a player and the coach is saying, ‘you’re doing this wrong, you’re in the wrong spot, you’re making the wrong read,’” Kearns said. “That’s hard as a player to hear, but they heard it, and they bounced back really quick.”

The Warhawks couldn’t keep the momentum going as in the third set, they allowed multiple key runs that left them trailing 17-10. ULM fought back to a deficit of only 21-19, but a service error and attacking error put the Jaguars into position, and their two kills gave them the third set, 25-20.

The fourth set screamed maroon and gold, with multiple errors plaguing the Jaguars. The Warhawks landed two service aces to lead 9-2. USA went on to outscore ULM throughout the set, taking a 23-22 lead. ULM pushed to a 24-24 tie. 

However, the Jaguars sealed the set with two kills to take the match and the series. 

“There are still some things that we missed from the scouting report that could have won us a couple of points here and there, which is unfortunate because a couple points here and there wins you a couple sets, and we’re talking about winning the match now,” Kearns said. “Executing this scouting report on day two, we started to get closer to meeting that expectation. But if the expectation is to win, then the expectation of doing the scouting report has to be done at an A+ level, and we got close to that on day two but still fell a little bit short, an A- maybe.”

The Warhawks improved from 33 total kills in the first match to 48 in the second. 

Additionally, ULM allowed nine aces and only performed four during Thursday’s match, whereas it allowed four aces in Friday’s match while scoring five. 

Another improvement was the blocking, only making three successful blocks in the first match and making 12 in the second.

Team stat leaders for the series include Ariana Brown with 24 total kills, Bailey Roberson with five aces and Logan Jeffus with five blocks.

The Warhawks travel to Hattiesburg to face the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi on Thursday and Friday.

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