After being defeated handily in the first set 25-13, Valdosta State adapted to take three of the final four sets to pick up a much needed 3-2 Gulf South Conference victory over the Christian Brothers Lady Bucs in Memphis, Tenn. on Saturday.
After taking a 6-5 lead in the first frame of the afternoon, the match turned into what appeared to be a potential repeat of the Blazers' (13-4, 6-2) Friday night 0-3 loss to Union, as the Lady Bucs (7-10, 4-4) took complete control and ran away with the set to claim a 25-13 win and a 1-0 match lead.
The Blazers showed resilience, however, and picked themselves up with a 26-24 win in a second set that featured seven lead changes and saw the Blazers score three straight points after facing set point trailing 23-24 late in the frame.
Valdosta State held momentum with a convincing 25-19 win in set three to take a 2-1 match lead, but the Lady Bucs would not go easily, as they retaliated with a 25-20 win in the fourth set to force a fifth and final frame.
In the deciding set, the Blazers took a 2-1 lead early after an attack error by CBU's Hannah Kurtz. Jenna Kirkwood, who finished the day with a team leading 15 kills, blasted a kill to give VSU a 3-1 advantage, and the Blazers never looked back, as they led for the remainder of the set and sealed up the victory with a 15-11 win.
Kirkwood finished with a .238 hitting percentage, while receiving assistance offensively from Destiny Berry and Kelsey Hedman, who finished with eight and six kills in the match, respectively.
Lelalelei Nomura delivered one of her strongest performances of the season for Valdosta State. The sophomore struck for 13 kills in 28 attempts. Those numbers combined with only two errors resulted in a sizzling .393 hitting percentage on the afternoon.
With Jessica Codato sidelined due to an injury in the previous night's match, the Blazers looked to Ashley Lala to perform setter duties on Saturday. The junior answered the call with a season high 40 sets in addition to three kills, one ace, seven digs, and one block.
The Blazers will continue the current daunting road trip with five contests next week in Pensacola, Fla.. The first match of the week will feature a battle of the top two teams in the league. The second place Blazers will square off against the top ranked West Florida Argonauts at 8 p.m. on October 15.
Competition continues in Pensacola later in the week as the Blazers participate in the West Florida Crossover for four more contests on Friday and Saturday. Be sure to stay tuned to www.vstateblazers.com to view updates and results as the Blazers fight for a top spot in the GSC.