HUNTSVILLE, Texas – With relative ease, the Ragin' Cajuns volleyball team notched a straight sets sweep of Texas Southern in the squad's final match of the 27th Annual Sam Houston Volleyball Invitational here Saturday afternoon at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
Six different Cajuns tallied four kills or more and the team's defense limited the Tigers to a -.041 hitting percentage (17 kills, 21 errors, 97 attempts).
With set victories of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-12, Louisiana (1-2) collected its first win of the young 2012 season and secured a third-place finish in the tournament.
The Cajuns turned in their best offensive performance of the weekend, hitting at a .202 clip (35 kills, 14 errors, 104 attempts). UL experienced two lead changes in the opening set, but dominated the Tigers (0-3) afterwards leading from start-to-finish in the final two sets.
For the third time in as many matches, Lavinia Tataran led UL in kills with seven. The Satu Mare, Romania native completed tournament play with 30 kills over 11 sets played, an average of 2.73 kills per set.
Blair Claypoole followed up a solid match against Colorado (.500 hitting percentage) by hitting .385 and needing only 13 attempts to throw down six kills. Claypoole, a senior playing in her home state (Mesquite, Texas native), accumulated 27 kills over the weekend (2.45 kills per set).
Preseason All-Sun Belt selection Mandi Gavin dished out 23 of the Cajuns' 35 assists and tied to team-and match-high honors with 10.5 points. Gavin was the top performer from the service line, registering five of UL's 10 aces.
Louisiana returned home following the completion of the match. The Cajuns will travel to Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday, Aug. 28 for a meeting with SWAC-member Jackson State at T.B. Ellis Gymnasium. UL opens its home slate Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) hosting Houston Baptist, McNeese State and Southern Miss in the Bon Temps Invitational at Earl K. Long Gym.
A five-minute "rain delay" due to a leaky roof at Johnson Coliseum forced the Cajuns to wait a few extra minutes to secure the season's first triumph.
The first and second sets both were tied twice, then the Cajuns roared through the third set for the match victory.
UL broke free from a slim 18-15 lead in the opening frame by using a 6-0 run to put the Tigers away. Tataran opened the run with a kill, and then proceeded to serve up the next five points which were capped off by an ace from the junior outside hitter.
In similar fashion, UL wrapped up the second set. Leading 18-14, Claypoole started a 4-0 run that left no doubt in the outcome. Two Tataran kills sandwiched an attack error by Mona Reed saw the Cajuns stretch the advantage to 22-14. Another Reed attack error came on set point and put UL up 2-0 in the match.
For the second consecutive set, TSU had a negative hitting percentage, hitting -.103 in the final stanza. The Cajuns took full advantage racing out to a 10-1 lead. At one point, Gavin landed an ace on three consecutive serves.
A Gavin service error gave the Tigers a point, but a 6-0 Cajuns run that saw four TSU attack errors pushed the advantage to an insurmountable count of 16-2.