Jax State volleyball begins season with SEMO sweep

In back-to-back contests on Sunday and Monday, the JSU volleyball team defeated Southeast Missouri in both matches. (Courtesy of JSU)In back-to-back contests on Sunday and Monday, the JSU volleyball team defeated Southeast Missouri in both matches. (Courtesy of JSU)

Coley Birchfield, Correspondent 

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks began their spring 2021 volleyball season with a two-game sweep of Ohio Valley Conference foe Southeast Missouri.

The games were hosted at Pete Mathews Coliseum on Sunday and Monday, and were meetings between the top two OVC teams, according to experts. 

Although Jax State (2-0) is the defending 2019 OVC champions, SEMO (0-2) was chosen as the preseason No. 1 in the conference. The Gamecocks followed in the No. 2 position.

“I’m really proud of this team for bringing their energy and focus all weekend,” said head coach Todd Garvey. “It takes a mature team to play consistently, especially when it’s a back-to-back with the same opponent.”

Jax State dominated the two contests, winning by a combined set total of 6-1. Garvey’s team relied on a balance between impressive college debuts and experienced leadership. 

One of those experienced players, Lexie Libs, earned OVC Setter of the Week honors. She tallied 72 assists over the weekend to help JSU earn a .284 hitting percentage. Along with her assists, Libs also collected five kills and 19 digs. She is familiar with recognition, however, after being named the 2019 OVC Setter of the Year.

As a team, The Gamecocks had four players with at least 15 kills. That balanced attack, and a nearly seven-hour road trip, seemed too much for the Redhawks to overcome.

Notable standouts from the weekend included Lena Kinderman, Erin Carmichael and Katie Montgomery. 

Kinderman, a Germany native, was the JSU leader in kills during 2019 and earned 24 total kills against SEMO. Southern Utah transfer, Montgomery, hit an impressive .455 with only one error during Monday’s meeting. Carmichael, the sophomore libero, collected 37 digs which included a near career high with 24 on Sunday.

Fans shouldn’t expect another home contest for a couple weeks. The Gamecocks will kick off two weeks of travel beginning in Edwardsville, Ill., with another OVC weekend series against SIU-Edwardsville (2-0) on Sunday and Monday.

Jax State will also take on Tennessee State before returning home on Sunday, Feb. 28 against Tennessee Tech at 7 p.m.

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