JONESBORO, Ark. -- Qiana Canete charted 19 kills and 20 digs and Zhanelle Geathers sported 17 kills but it wasn't enough as UTA volleyball suffered a five-set loss (25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 11-15) to Appalachian State to end the 2017 season in the first round of the Sun Belt Championships, hosted on Thursday by Arkansas State at the Convocation Center.
UTA (13-17, 7-910 Sun Belt Conference) posted a first-set, comeback win over Appalachian State (12-19, 7-10 Sun Belt) to open the match but each of its comeback bids in the second and third sets fell short. The Mavs rallied to take the fourth with a 25-21 win but Appalachian State opened the fifth set on a 6-0 run UTA couldn't overcome.
LEADING THE MAVS
The loss ends the decorated career of Canete, a senior outside hitter. Canete, a native of Copperas Cove, Texas, exits her career as the school record holder in career kills, while ranking fourth in digs, the only player to rank among the UTA record holders in each category. She had 19 kills and 20 digs on Thursday to lead the offensive attack, with Geathers sporting 17 kills, five blocks and three digs.
Sophomore Kylie Jedlicka notched UTA's other double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs, with sophomore Madison McConnell owning seven kills, five kills and five service aces. Sophomore Haley Higgins charted 52 assists from her setter post, with freshman Tessa Harfield adding a career-high seven blocks. Liberos Libbie Vickers (12) and Madison Smith (eight), helped lead the Mavs in digs.
The teams traded points early, with Canete opening the match with the kill. UTA race out to a 6-4 lead after a point from McConnell, stretching it to 7-5 behind Canete's second kill. The Mountaineers then rallied to take an 11-8 lead, stretching it to 16-12. UTA rallied behind back-to-back kills from McConnell to even it at 18, forcing a timeout. The teams traded points before a 3-0 UTA run lifted the Mavs to a 23-20 lead and an eventual 25-21 win.
Appalachian State built a 3-0 lead to start the second set, with UTA answering with three straight of its own. After a pair of kills from Jedlicka, the Mavs owned an 11-6 lead. App. State then rallied to even it at 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, taking a 20-18 lead. Geathers evened the set at 23, forcing a timeout, but Appalachian State notched the following two points for the win.
Higgins started the third with an ace and the Mavs opened with a 3-1 lead. Appalachian State scored six of the next eight points to take a 7-5 lead, stretching it to 11-7. UTA went on a 6-0 run to force a timeout and take a 13-11 lead, but Appalachian State's five straight points saw the Mavs trail 22-18. App. State fought off a kill from Geathers to cut it to 24-22 to finish off a 25-22 win.
The teams swapped kills to open the set, with Appalachian State taking the first advantage at 5-2. UTA rallied to tie the set at nine after a kill from Geathers but Appalachian State used consecutive kills for a 13-10 lead. The Mavs went on a 3-0 run to take a 20-17 lead but the Mountaineers responded to cut the UTA lead to 22-20. After a quick, set-point timeout from Coach J.T. Wenger, the Mavs got the kill from Jedlicka to clinch he 25-21 win.
Six straight points opened the fifth for the Mountaineers, with UTA fighting back behind consecutive kills from McConnell and Canete to cut the lead to one and force a timeout. App. State notched two straight out of the break and held off the Mavs for a 15-11 win.
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