VALDOSTA — Valdosta State’s volleyball team keeps winning.

Monday night, the Lady Blazers swept Albany State in three games, 30-13, 31-29 and 30-18 at The Complex. They dominated the first and third games, and came out ahead in a dogfight in the second game.

Senior outside hitter Laura Lee Atkinson had her 18th double-double of the season, recording 15 kills and 11 digs. Stephanie Kirrstetter had 14 kills, Grace George added 11, and setter Niki Patriarca had 38 assists in for the Lady Blazers.

The win improves Valdosta State to 16-13 this season, and gives the Lady Blazers seven more wins than they had a year ago.

“We are 16-13 now,” Valdosta State head coach Sia Poyer said. “The new kids are making a huge difference. Our seniors, especially our four-year seniors, are doing a good job. We’ve been pretty lucky with the chemistry.”

Valdosta State came out on fire in the first set, taking 25 of the first 35 points, en route to winning 30-13. Atkinson had eight kills, and Patriarca had 15 assists.

But the Lady Rams regrouped, and battled VSU the entire second game. Valdosta State took an early 9-4 lead, but Albany State rallied to tied the game at 10-10. Then the Lady Rams took the next three points, and went ahead 13-10. Albany took leads of 19-14 and 24-21, only to have VSU come back to tie each time.

“Albany State’s got some good athletes,” Poyer said. “In the second game, I tried changing the lineup a little, just to work on some things. But every time I do that, it messes things up. I guess I don’t need to mess with the natural order of things.”

Albany State had game point at 29-28, but VSU won a long point to tie it again. Then Kirrstetter earned the Lady Blazers the next two points with kills, giving them the game 2 win. Kirrstetter, a freshman from Boca Raton, had seven kills in game 2.

Valdosta State then finished out the three-game sweep with a 30-18 win in game 3. The Lady Blazers earned five of the first seven points, and later extended the lead to 14-7 and 19-9. That lead was too much for the Lady Rams to overcome.

Poyer emptied his bench in game 3, getting all of his players a chance to play.

“I wanted to get all of them in the game,” Poyer said. “It’s nice to do that, especially for the seniors, at home, where their friends and their families can see them play.”

Valdosta State will host two key Gulf South Conference games this week, taking on Alabama-Huntsville on Thursday and North Alabama on Saturday.

The Lady Blazers sit in third place in the conference at 4-4, behind 8-0 North Alabama and 6-2 West Florida. But Alabama-Huntsville, Montevallo and West Georgia are all just one game back at 3-5.

“Alabama-Huntsville will be a big match for us in conference,” Poyer said.

Thursday night will be Aloha Thursday. The first 50 fans showing up in a Hawaiian shirt will receive a prize at the door.

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