Sadie Appleton, Sports Correspondant
This past Saturday, the Jacksonville State volleyball team traveled to Cape Girardeau, Missouri in hopes of beating Southeastern Missouri State University for the top spot in the OVC. Leading up to the match, both the Gamecocks and the Redhawks were both tied for this spot and this showdown would serve as a tie-breaker for the two. Unfortunately, Jax State came up short following a nail-biting four-set battle that ended with Southeast Missouri capturing the victory in a 3-1 decision.
In last year’s season, JSU secured the fourth seed in the OVC tournament after sweeping SEMO in the regular season finale. JSU then went on to earn their first postseason win in nine years. This season, the Gamecocks are eyeing a regular season title with only a few matches remaining.
The initial set opened with both teams trading points that led to the score being tied 8-8. SEMO then started to take off with the scoring drive and forced a JSU timeout following a 16-12 spread. JSU tried to come back, but came up short as the Redhawks took the first frame 25-19.
Mirroring the first frame, the two teams both reached another 8-8 tie in the following set. However, this time Jacksonville State would be the ones to run up the scoring drive after putting up ten points against Southeast Missouri’s three.
Senior Kaylee Frear would score the tenth point in this drive to not only make the score 18-11 putting JSU in the lead, but also to break her monumental 1,000th kill mark, becoming the 21stplayer in school history to do so. JSU closed out the second set with a score of 25-19.
Similar to the two previous frames, both teams remained even with the scoring tally in the third set. Eventually, SEMO began to take the lead again, leaving JSU behind at 24-13. A late rally of six points would help with damage control for the Gamecocks but the Redhawks sealed the set with a 25-20 decision, leading the match at 2-1.
The fourth and final set saw JSU take off with a 9-5 lead. JSU’s gap began to slim as SEMO would respond by putting down back-to-back aces to bring the score to 12-10. Southeast Missouri would go on to even the score at 14-14 following another service ace and a few errors by the Gamecocks.
Trading blows, the score eventually ran up to 18-18. JSU then found themselves against the ropes as SEMO ran away with a 6-1 scoring drive to widen the gap to 24-19. Looking to keep the match alive, Jax State prevented four match-points but ultimately fell as the Redhawks drove home the winning score, ending the frame at 25-23.
While the defeat was disappointing for the Gamecocks, the effort was led by impressive performances by multiple players. In addition to her historic scoring mark, Kaylee Frear also achieved a team-high 15 kills.
Junior Kaylie Milton went on to post a double-double with 12 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore Lena Kindermann put up 11 kills and a .348 hitting clip. Junior Lexie Libs supported the team with 47 assists alongside freshman Erin Carmichael who put up 21. Overall, the squad etched in a .282 hitting percentage for the match.
Jacksonville State, now 15-9 overall and 9-3 for the OVC, will face their final conference games on the road against Eastern Kentucky on Friday, Nov. 8 and Morehead State on Saturday, Nov. 9. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.