Pensacola, FL - Saturday Valdosta State advanced past the first round of the Gulf South Conference Volleyball Tournament for the first time in the team’s history with a 3-1 win over fourth seed West Alabama (19-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-15), but, unfortunately, fell in the semifinal match against top seed West Florida, 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-15).
In the first match of the day, VSU played strong, getting 39 kills from the top three offensive players. Katie Onushko led the team with 15 kills while Chelsea Logan and Tania Tauiliili both added 12 each. Onushko and Tauiliili were efficient scorers, both only tallying three errors each. Onushko finished hitting an outstanding .429 attacking percentage while Tauiliili was at .375.
Reigning GSC Freshman of the Year Ashley Lala gave out 46 assists in the match while Chelsea Luttfring and Krista Bradford combined for 35 of Valdosta State’s 70 digs. Luttfring had 18 digs while Bradford totaled 17.
Onushko and Tauiliili both had three block assists while Tauiliili added a solo block. Logan and Brittany Smith also each posted a solo block in a team effort to get eight blocks.
The Blazers were on fire in their first GSC Tournament victory. After hitting a team attacking percentage of .140 in the first set, the Blazers improved to .286 in the second and .317 in the third set. They finished the Tigers off in the fourth set with a .310 attacking percentage to help the team put together a team percentage of .257 for the match.
Valdosta State’s defense held West Alabama to a mere .146 attacking percentage. The Tigers were most efficient in the first set with a .233 percentage, but dropped in each set to .171, .095 and .042.
The first round win pitted Valdosta State against top seed West Florida in the semifinals, a team that swept VSU Saturday only allowing 14, 18 and 20 points in the match. The Blazers did better against the powerhouse team Friday, falling 25-19, 25-19, 25-15.
Logan stepped up to lead VSU in the match with 13 kills and a .375 attacking percentage. Next in line was Onushko with eight kills, then Tauiliili with five. No other Blazer scored in the match.
Lala gave out 24 assists and led the team in digs with 14. Macy Markham and Bradford combined for 23 of the team’s 52 digs. The only block for VSU came from Onushko, a solo.
West Florida will go on to face the winner between second seed North Alabama and No. 6 seed Alabama-Huntsville at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Blazers will end their season at 17-18 overall with a conference record of 5-9.