STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Volleyball picked up a straight sets sweep for the second straight day on opening weekend of the collegiate volleyball season, besting Eastern Kentucky 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-20) on Saturday, August 26 in the StarkVegas Classic at the Newell-Grissom Building.
Louisiana (2-0) had another strong showing offensively, scoring 46 kills off of 100 swings on a .320 hitting percentage. Through two matches in Starkville the Cajuns have scored 40-plus kills and hit .250-plus each time.
The Ragin’ Cajuns command of the match was also found in their defense which produced a 49-35 advantage in digs and five critical blocks in Set 3 which helped seal the sweep of EKU (1-2).
Louisiana asserted control early in the opening set, tallying eight kills on the first 11 attacks which led to a 12-7 advantage and a Colonels timeout. UL’s edge was no lower than three points the rest of the way, at 15-12, and that’s when Shyia Richardson and Celeste Darling came up with kills to extend the lead back out.
As in Friday’s match with Northwestern State, the Cajuns’ tenacity was on display with comebacks from a 7-3 deficit in Set 2 and a 12-7 deficit in Set 3.
A pair of Siena DeCambra aces closed the gap in Set 2 to 9-8 before Louisiana eventually pulled ahead 13-12 off a Richardson kill. The lead would change hands four more times with UL reclaiming the advantage for good with three straight scores capped off by a Mya Wilson kill made it 19-17.
EKU built two sizeable leads early in Set 3, but the Cajuns answered the challenge. The latter response was a 6-2 run that sliced the Colonels’ lead to 14-13, then out of a timeout UL kept scoring as kills from Richardson and Kara Barnes followed by a block from Barnes and Wilson made it 16-14 in favor of the Cajuns.
The Barnes-Wilson block combination was the first of three key stuffs down the stretch. Barnes had a solo stuff with the Cajuns clinging to an 18-16 lead then the final stop featured Wilson and Cami Hicks together growing the edge to 23-18.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Richardson matched her output from the season opener, tallying 17 kills once again to claim match-high honors. She used just 32 swings and hit an impressive .406 (17 K, 4 E, 32 TA). Through two matches in Starkville, Richardson is average 5.7 kills per set on a .356 hitting percentage.
Darling added another nine kills from the outside hitter slot, while Hicks (7 kills) and Wilson (5 kills) turned in precision efforts combining for 12 kills over 20 swings.
Defensively, Hicks led the way blocking with a hand in four stuffs along with Wilson (3 blocks) and Barnes (2 blocks) who each had a hand in multiple blocks.
Freshman Kennedy Gustafson collected a match-high 15 digs, rounding up double figures for the second straight day wearing the libero jersey. Richardson hauled in 10 digs to register her first double-double with Louisiana.
DeCambra scored three kills and two aces to add to her stat line that included 38 assists.
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
The Ragin’ Cajuns close out the opening weekend of the 2023 season and complete play in the StarkVegas Classic on Sunday, August 27 meeting host-Mississippi State in a 1:00 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building.
The StarkVegas Classic finale will be streamed live on SEC Network Plus (SECN+) via WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPNapp. Live stats can be accessed at CajunStats.com.
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