Sadie Appleton, Sports Correspondent
Jacksonville State’s volleyball team hosted two matches this past week that began their run of four straight Ohio Valley Conference matches.
JSU left last weekend’s road tournament with heads held high as they concluded with two straight match sweeps against University of New Orleans and College of Charleston. Once the Gamecocks returned home, they looked to continue this drive in a pair of matches against Tennessee Tech and UT Martin.
On Wednesday, Tennessee Tech was served its ninth season loss from Jacksonville State. JSU, on the other hand, continued their winning streak against the Golden Eagles, who have not defeated the Gamecocks since the 2015 season.
The opening two sets were taken easily by the Gamecocks, with the initial score being 25-15 and the following 25-18.
However, the third set would prove to be more of a challenge as Jacksonville State would trail 15-9 to TTU. After a timeout called by JSU, the Gamecocks charged back to even up the score at 18-18, before utilizing the momentum to close out the frame with a 25-18 victory – sealing the match with a 3-0 sweep.
Lexie Libs, a junior, helped lead the commanding offense to a decisive sweep of TTU by posting 45 assists and 12 digs. Aiding in the win, Lena Kindermann would put down 14 kills followed closely by Kaylee Frear with 12. Three players also accomplished at least a .500 hitting percentage for the match: Kindermann, Sadie Anderson, and Taylor Pribyl. A true freshman, Pribyl also achieved a career high seven kills. Overall, the squad combined for an eyebrow-raising .398 hitting percentage on the night.
Coming off a confidence-boosting win, JSU faced off against the Skyhawks of UT Martin the following Saturday to close out the week. Although Jax State had a three-game winning streak, the match up against the Skyhawks would see that streak fizzle out.
In the first set, the two teams battled for the lead. Eventually, the Gamecocks were able to grasp on to a 21-9 lead, forcing a UT Martin timeout. A service error would give the Skyhawks momentum to begin a six-point scoring run that closed out the frame 25-21 in UTM’s favor.
Looking to bounce back, Jacksonville State would wrap up the second set after taking off to a final score of 25-16. After seven ties and five lead changes, JSU was in position to seal another set victory at 24-21. The Sky hawks then responded with five unanswered points to take the third set, giving the Gamecocks an unwanted setback in the match.
Heading into the fourth set of the match, JSU trailed early at set score of 9-4, forcing a timeout for the Gamecocks. Following the break, JSU regathered to achieve a 5-1 scoring run. Kills from Kindermann and Pribyl then brought the score to 12-11 with the Gamecocks in the lead. UT Martin, however, would respond and take the set victory at 25-20, sealing the match at 3-1.
The Sky hawk win was their first in Jacksonville since 2011. Despite JSU’s loss, multiple players had valiant performances. Kindermann completed 20 kills and a league best hitting percentage of .341. Kindermann joined four other Gamecocks in putting away double-digit kills. The mark was reached by Kaylee Frear with 12, Sadie Anderson with 11 and Lexie Libs with 10, who also posted 44 assists. Libs and Kindermann would be selected as the OVC’s Setter and Offensive Player of the Week, respectfully.
The 7-7 Jacksonville State Gamecocks will continue OVC action at home in Pete Mathews Coliseum on Thursday, October 3, against Eastern Kentucky and on Sunday, October 6, against Morehead State.