Kennesaw State’s volleyball team played two close home matches over the weekend, falling to Samford 3-2 Friday, Sept. 13, before coming back to defeat South Alabama 3-2 Saturday.
On Friday, the match was not a runaway for either team in five highly-contested sets.
At the beginning of the set, senior Lexi Broadwater gave the Owls an added edge with a kill and an ace, all within seconds, to give KSU a 12-9 lead.
Junior Lauren Chastang finished off the set with a kill that solidified the win 25-21.
The pace of the second set was a similar feeling at first, with neck-and-neck type gameplay. This diminished as the lead shifted, and the set ended with the Bulldogs coming out on top to even up the match.
“We had some decent moments,” head coach Keith Schunzel said. “But we were not remotely consistent enough to expect to win a match.”
The third set was led by KSU sophomore Jasmine Brown, whose efficient attacking helped increase momentum for the Owls. Despite this, KSU could not fight off Samford’s aggression and lost the set 25-22.
Chastang and freshman Emma Schurfranz were the key players that led the way in the fourth set. They both helped KSU come from behind to win 25-15 and force a fifth set.
Although the fifth set began with a KSU lead, miscues and missed opportunities led to the Bulldogs winning the match. Within a one-point deficit, Samford squeezed past the Owls to win the final set 15-10.
On Saturday, the tempo was set early as the Owls and Jaguars traded points to open the match. While tied 9-9, South Alabama took the lead after a 6-0 run. The Owls later got to within one point, but the Jaguars won the opening set 25-21.
The second set began the same way with the Jaguars holding a 7-5 advantage. Consecutive errors from the Owls gave South Alabama set point, but the Owls were able to fend it off with a kill from senior Madeline Johnson to win the set 26-24 and even the match 1-1.
In the third set, South Alabama took a 9-5 lead early on. After a 5-0 run from the Owls, South Alabama managed to execute back-to-back kills to end the set 25-22.
At the beginning of the fourth set, the Jaguars were still in the lead before the Owls responded with a 7-0 run to pull in front. The Owls came back after two kills from Brown and a kill from Schurfranz to clinch the set 25-21.
The fifth set was dominated by the Owls as the team jumped out to a 5-1 lead early, thanks in part to two aces from junior Karlee Groover. The Owls then took advantage of South Alabama’s miscues to secure the 15-7 set win and match victory.
Chastang recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 22 kills and 16 digs. Her 22 kills mark the second time this season she has recorded 20 or more kills. Brown logged a career-high 14 kills while adding five blocks.
“For us to mentally reset … to play at a much higher level, is a great thing,” Schunzel said.
The Owls play three away matches this week, heading to Tuscaloosa to take on the University of Alabama on Tuesday, Sept.17, before going to the Gamecock Invitational to play Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 21, and South Carolina on Sunday.