VB: South Alabama Takes Down Mavs

Sept. 23, 2017

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- South Alabama carried the momentum from the first-set comeback to a four-set win (24-26, 15-25, 25-15, 23-25) over UTA volleyball on Saturday night at College Park Center.

UTA (7-7, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) fell in the second conference match of the year to South Alabama (7-5, 2-0 SBC), with the Jags opening up its league schedule with a pair of wins in Texas, also besting Texas State on Friday. The Jags also have wins over Ole Miss and Clemson to open the year.

"We were definitely in a tough situation after the second," UTA Head Coach J.T. Wenger said. "We were able to turn it around, get aggressive and take some good swings. Game plan wise some things changed and we were able to make some adjustments which showed some character and some heart."

The Mavs got the ninth double-double of the year from senior Qiana Canete, a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection, collecting 15 kills and 12 digs. Junior Zhanelle Geathers earned a match-high 19 kills, adding four digs. Sophomore Kylie Jedlicka totaled 12 kills with 10 digs for her first double-double of the year. Kailyn Gilbreath had 44 assists with two kills and seven digs and sophomore Madison McConnell finished with four kills and two digs. Freshman Tessa Harfield had five kills and three blocks and junior libero Libbie Vickers had a team-high 17 digs.

UTA will return to action on Friday, traveling to face defending Sun Belt Conference Champion Coastal Carolina at 5:30 p.m. CT, before concluding the league-opening road trip at Appalachian State on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

"We need to play aggressive if we want to have a shot to compete and win and we had a shot tonight," Wenger said about the next five matches on the road. "Battling back at the end and pushing. Staying aggressive, going for it and playing with that confidence."

South Alabama opened the scoring but the Mavs answered with a 2-0 run to take their first lead. After a USA point, McConnell finished her first kill of the match but the Jags answered with a 3-0 run to take a 5-3 lead. McConnell's second kill cut it to one and UTA regained the lead with a 3-0 run to take an 8-7 lead, with the eighth point coming off a Harfield termination. Canete answered a 2-0 run with a powerful block and the set was evened up at seven. Geathers spurred a 4-0 UTA run to take the lead with the junior earning three kills in the stretch. With the set tied at 15-15, Gilbreath's nifty lefty kill gave the Mavs a lead, with a 2-0 run giving UTA an 18-16 lead. Jedlicka stuffed a block for a 20-17 lead but USA fought back with a late 2-0 run to cut it to 23-22 and force a UTA timeout. Canete skied for a kill to give UTA match point at 24-22 but USA went on a 4-0 run to take a 25-24 lead into a timeout from Coach J.T. Wenger. USA finished off the win with the next point for a 26-24 win.

After a Harfield and Jedlicka block opened the scoring in the first, South Alabama scored six of the next seven points to take a 6-2 lead. The Jags extended their lead to force a UTA timeout with a 3-0 run and stretched the run to 6-0 to build a 12-3 lead. The Mavs were able to trade points in the second but couldn't overcome the 18-7 lead built early in the set by the Jags, who finished off the set, 25-15.

The Mavs opened the third on a furious rally, taking a 7-0 lead before a pair of attack errors charged to Geathers got the Jags on the board. Geathers then smashed home the kill to answer the mistakes and give UTA an 8-2 lead. The teams traded points until a 3-0 UTA run, finished with a Geathers kill off a great dig from Vickers, to take a 15-7 lead. UTA extended its lead to 19-12 after a kill from McConnell and Harfield's termination during a 3-0 run lead UTA to a 24-14 lead, finishing off the 25-15 win.

UTA started the scoring but fell behind 4-2 after allowing a couple of 2-0 runs to the Jags and cut the lead to 6-5 after Gilbreath found Canete for a powerful kill. The teams traded points until USA reeled off a 3-0 run to take a 12-8 lead and force a Wenger timeout. UTA answered with a 3-0 run to cut the lead to one but USA went on a 5-0 run to take an 18-12 lead and force the final UTA timeout. UTA answered out of the break with a 4-0 run as USA was forced to call a timeout, leading 19-16. USA responded with a 3-0 run and UTA answered with another 3-0 run but after USA called timeout with a 24-23 lead, they finished off set point for the win.

For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics. Follow @UTAVolleyball on twitter and at UTAVolleyball on Facebook. 




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