Valdosta, GA - Valdosta State put together a stellar day with a dominating 3-0 sweep of conference foe West Georgia (27-25, 25-15, 25-12) and an impressive five-set loss against regional power Rollins (26-24, 19-25, 25-22, 25-27, 13-15) at the Wingate by Wyndham Crossover Classic Friday.
Valdosta State moves to 14-6 on the season with a 5-1 record in the Gulf South Conference, good enough for sole possession of first place in the GSC East, at least for now.
The Blazers displayed balance in the win against the Wolves with six players notching seven digs or more. Everyone with more than one attack in the match hit a percentage of .300 or better led by Arielle Parnell with a .615. As a team, VSU finished the match with a .451 percentage and hit for a .600 mark in the third set.
Reigning GSC East Defensive Player of the Week Ruthie King led the team in digs once again with 15 against UWG followed by 13 from Irene Hannan and 10 from Chelsea Luttfring. Parnell added six block assists while Katie Onushko was in on four to help VSU outblock West Georgia, 9-1.
Emelia Saulter and Hope Ripsam combined for 47 assists (27 for Ripsam).
Mary K Krueger led the Wolves with eight kills while Emily Reul tallied 10 digs. Reagin Boggs passed out 28 assists.
But the match of the day, without a doubt, was Valdosta State vs. Sunshine State Conference opponent Rollins.
In the five-set thriller, the teams combined for 239 digs (123 for Rollins). Leading the way for VSU was Hannan with 31 while King got under 29. Luttfring added 25. Phoebe Corder and Sarah Mendoza hit 28 and 27 digs respectively for Rollins.
Mendoza was a menace for VSU all night with 19 kills and 75 attacks, 20 more than the nearest Tar. But Hannan went toe to toe with Mendoza, also tallying 19 kills on just 55 attacks for a .273 percentage to lead all Blazers with more than four attacks.
King had 13 while Onushko put up 12. Saulter passed out 32 assists and Ripsam gave 23. Tania Tauiliili was a monster at the net with one solo block and five assists, but Rollins still outblocked VSU, 15-8.
Both teams jostled back and forth to extra points in the first set until Saulter won it for VSU with an ace, one of two for her on the night. Rollins bounced back for the 25-19 win in the second set, but the Blazers regained control in the third.
With a 9-7 lead, VSU rifled a run of four consecutive points jumpstarted by a kill from Onushko. Saulter picked up her second ace then Tauiliili and Logan each hit a kill. The two teamed up for a block after that, and all of a sudden Valdosta State held a 13-7 advantage. With that, the Blazers and Tars traded points but VSU maintained the cushion throughout the set.
The fourth set was Valdosta State’s best opportunity to win. After falling behind 4-1, the Blazers rallied to an 8-8 tie, then a 10-10 tie. Once caught up, VSU passed up the Tars with a block from Tauiliili and Hannan for the 11-10 lead.
Then Parnell went on a run of her own with three consecutive kills followed by a block in which she teamed up with Onushko. Then Onushko jumped in on the action with a kill of her own to make it 17-12, VSU.
Rollins rallied to tie the set at 22, but Hannan put down a kill from Saulter to regain the lead. Later, with a one-point lead, VSU served for the match, but committed an error. Two more errors by VSU gave Rollins the fourth set, 27-25.
The Blazers could not rebound in the fifth. However, the Complex at Valdosta State played host to some of the best volleyball ever played in Valdosta. Saturday the Blazers will face Nova Southeastern and Eckerd at 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. to finish up the Wingate by Wyndham Crossover Classic.