Sadie Appleton, Correspondent
The past weekend proved to be one for the history books for Jacksonville State as the volleyball team took down Belmont and Tennessee State to claim the Ohio Valley Conference title. This is the team’s first conference title in ten years and guarantees them a spot in the OVC Volleyball Tournament.
Jacksonville State University’s weekend run began with a matchup against Belmont, who had been struggling for the majority of the season with a mere two wins overall and one in conference play. The Gamecocks started the match by quickly cruising out to a four-point lead in the first set. However, the Bruins chipped away at the gap until the score came to an even 11-11 and later at 16-16.
While Belmont showed closing effort in the set, they were never able to surpass Jax State for the lead. A five-point scoring run initiated by Sadie Anderson helped close out the frame at 25-18.
In the following set, the score was once again run up by JSU but once again Belmont fought back to tie the frame at 14-14. The Gamecocks quickly responded after a kill and block from Kaylie Milton and Anderson, respectively, helped them turn the momentum around. While BU once again closed in on JSU’s lead at 22-21, late errors would give the Gamecocks the advantage and another set win at 25-22.
Belmont took the lead in the third set with Jax State trailing 13-11. Despite this, JSU proved to be vigilant and put down four points in a row, forcing the Bruins to take a timeout to regroup. Coming back from the brief intermission, the Gamecocks continued to be dominant and clinched the final frame at 25-21, sweeping Belmont 3-0.
Junior Kaylie Milton once again proved why she is an asset to the team with 12 kills and a .250 hit clip for the night. Offensively, Lexie Libs set up many of the game deciding points with 35 assists along with 10 digs. Several Gamecocks had high scoring performances including senior Sadie Anderson (9), sophomore Lena Kindermann (9), senior Shayla Schmidt (8) and Kaylee Frear (7).
Coming off the exciting and decisive win, Jacksonville State looked to their next match against Tennessee State. Not only because the match decided the winner for the OVC regular season, but because the faceoff against the Lady Tigers was also Senior Day for JSU.
Opening the match, JSU quickly ran off to an 8-2 lead shortly before TSU responded to even the match at 18-18. Despite this pressure, Jacksonville State fought back with a 4-0 scoring run thanks to Schmidt and Kindermann to take the set at 25-20.
Tennessee State came back aggressively in the following set to take an early lead that was never overcome by the Gamecocks. JSU fell in the second set 25-19, evening the match tally. The Gamecocks came out headstrong in the third and fourth set which were each captured with scores of 25-18, securing the OVC regular season crown for Jacksonville State.
Appropriate for the Senior Day festivities, both seniors Frear and Schmidt posted team-high 14 kills each, followed by Senior, Anderson with 11 kills. Senior Maddie Cloutier also had an impressive performance by matching her career high of ten digits.
The 2019 Ohio Valley Conference Championships will be help at Pete Matthew’s Coliseum on Nov. 21. Jacksonville State is set to face off against SIU Edwardsville on Thursday at 6 p.m. The tournament’s semifinal round will be held Friday Nov 22, which will then lead to the championship match the following Saturday evening.