VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State started the season right with two victories Friday, sweeping Converse, 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-13) and beating Florida Tech in four, (19-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-23).
Offensively, senior middle blocker Tania Tauiliili led the team with 20 kills and an impressive .417 attacking percentage. She also led the team at the net with six blocks, two solo.
Meanwhile, freshman outside hitter Nikki McDaniel had a great showing on her first day of collegiate action. She hit down 18 kills, finished with 21 digs and served up eight aces Friday.
Hope Ripsam and Ashley Lala combined for 61 assists on the day with Ripsam edging Lala out with 33. The two also added 31 digs. Libero Chelsea Luttfring wiped the floor clean with 29 digs while defensive specialist Krista Bradford tallied 17 digs.
The first match was never in doubt as the Blazers raced out to a 25-14 in the first set. Valdosta State struck 16 kills in the opening set with a .324 percentage and hit .300 in the second set en route to a 25-13 win. The third set was no different as VSU cruised to another 25-13 set to put away Converse in the first match of the season.
It was a four-tiered offensive attack in the opening match. Tauiliili led with nine kills but McDaniel, Onushko and Destiny Berry backed her up with eight, seven and six kills respectively. Berry carried her strong first match with four kills and no errors in the second match to finish the day hitting a team high .429 attacking percentage.
Defensively VSU gave Converse no hope, holding the Valkyries to a 0.29 attacking percentage in the first set and negative percentages in the second and third sets. The Blazers only gave up 17 kills in the entire match.
The second match was more competitive, but once VSU hit its stride, it didn’t let up. After dropping the first set, 25-19, VSU rebounded to outlast Florida Tech in the second set, 25-23, then put on a dominating performance in the third set, 25-15. With the Panthers playing for their lives in the fourth, Florida Tech was able to push VSU to the edge but the Blazers tamed the Panthers, 25-23, in the final set.
Tauiliili led the team with 11 kills on a .364 percentage while McDaniel added 10 kills. Ripsam gave 17 assists and Lala gave out 16. Luttfring dug up 19 balls, and McDaniel added 16 digs.
The Blazers will look to keep the streak rolling against Lander at 11 a.m. and Coastal Georgia at 7 p.m. Saturday.