Valdosta, GA - Valdosta State showed resilience in two hard fought matches Friday. The Blazers beat Augusta State in five sets (25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-10) to start the day and pushed Barry to the edge in a four-set thriller, falling 25-21, 25-23, 12-25, 30-28, to end the day at 1-1.
Throughout the day, some of Valdosta State’s youngsters showed up strong, led by setter Ashley Lala. She finished the day with 93 assists, 53 in the first match, to lead the team. She also tallied a team high 37 digs while swinging for a .292 attacking percentage to notch 11 kills.
In the final set against Barry, two other underclassmen showed they weren’t afraid of the big moment. Freshman Jennifer Beatty and sophomore Anna Nichenko swung for the final four VSU kills to keep Valdosta State alive in the match. Nichenko led all VSU hitters in attacking percentage for the day tallying seven kills on 12 attempts with just one error for a .500 attacking percentage.
Other high percentage hitters include Tania Tauiliili (21 kills, .354 percentage), Lala and Chelsea Logan (24 kills, .239 percentage). Katie Onushko led the team in kills with 26 combined in both matches.
Defensively, Macy Markham put up 27 digs from the libero position, good enough for second on the team. She also led VSU in service aces with six. Behind her, freshman Krista Bradford and Onushko each notched 25 digs.
Tauillili and Destiny Berry each skied high for seven blocks each, Tauiliili notching three solo blocks.
Onushko led VSU in offense against Augusta State with 16 kills while Logan did it against Barry with 15. In both matches, two others combined for 21 kills behind the team leader. Onushko doubled up in both matches, adding 15 digs in her first match performance and going for 10 and 10 in the second match. Lala also double-doubled in both matches, but she used assists and digs.
Valdosta State’s best performance of the day came in the third set against Barry. After dropping the first two, VSU put up a 25-12 performance in the third, hitting a .441 attacking percentage.
The Blazers will try to move to 3-1 on the season with matches against Fort Valley State and Adelphi at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.