VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State and Shorter put on a show Thursday evening in a five-set match, but the Blazers fell in their first Gulf South Conference match of the season, 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-12). Valdosta State drops to 6-3 while Shorter stays undefeated at 6-0.
Senior Katie Onushko led the Blazers in kills with 15, but freshman Kelsey Kovar was the most impressive player on the floor for VSU. She finished with 14 kills and a team high .324 attacking percentage. She also added seven digs.
Freshman Nikki McDaniel added 12 kills while Tania Tauiliili tallied 10. Hope Ripsam gave out 35 assists for the night while Ashley Lala gave 22. McDaniel made it a double-double with 13 digs, and Chelsea Luttfring led the team with 21 digs. Krista Bradford also reached double digits with 10 digs.
The Blazers had eight blocks for the match, led by Destiny Berry with three assists and two solos, but the Hawks outmatched VSU at the net with 10 blocks.
Jasmine Crook proved problematic for Valdosta State throughout the night, leading Shorter in kills with 22. Leslie Welch added 12 while Anna Graham and Jennifer Campbell contributed 10 each. Welch hit her 12 kills with just two errors for a .476 attacking percentage.
Setter Jordan Corder gave out 49 assists in the five-setter and added a team high 16 digs. Both Graham and Crook added four block assists while Lauren Olive and libero Tanequa Whitman each had 13 digs.
Valdosta State’s best offensive set was the second, a 25-20 win, in which the Blazers struck 13 kills and just three errors for a .333 attacking percentage. The red and black hit the most kills of the match in the third set, finishing with 19 in another 25-20 win.
With a 2-1 lead in the match, however, the Blazers dropped the fourth set to Shorter. The Hawks ran away to a 25-17 win, hitting .325 in the process.
The fifth set did not start well for VSU, but the Blazers rallied back. Down, 6-2, Valdosta State went on a run, mostly behind McDaniel’s service, to go ahead 9-7. Shorter would not lay down though and regained the lead, 11-10. Valdosta State wouldn’t lead in the match again as the Hawks soared past the Blazers.
Valdosta State will look to bounce back against GSC opponents Alabama-Huntsville and West Georgia this weekend, facing UAH at 7 p.m. Friday and UWG at 2 p.m. Saturday.