SIOUX FALLS – Bolstering their schedule strength with a mid-week match against a team receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, University of Sioux Falls stayed undefeated with a five-set victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville, 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-13), on Wednesday evening. The Cougars move to 5-0 on the season and will stay idle until the start of their conference season after the forecast of Hurricane Irma caused the cancellation of the Saint Leo Invitational this weekend. The Cougars return to action in their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener when they face Wayne State on Wednesday, Sept. 13 in Wayne, Neb.
USF maintained their dominant defense, holding the Javelinas (3-2) to a .202 attack percentage while Bria Barfnecht led four Cougars to double-digit kills and a team .279 hitting percentage. Barfnecht posted her second-straight double-double with 17 digs and 10 kills while libero Janelle Lam stretched her string of matches with double-digit kills with a team-high 11. Junior setter Megan Hamstad continues to guide the offense as she handed out 55 assists while posting three service aces and eight digs.
Lexi Scott matches her teammate’s streak of five matches, but the junior middle blocker has now strung together five straight matches with double-digit kills after recording 10 on Wednesday night. Freshman Averey Yaksich was big for the Cougars with 11 kills and KaSandra Springer added nine as USF out-hit the Javelinas 65-55 in kills.
In a back-and-forth match, the Cougars won the odd-numbered sets, while Texas A&M-Kingsville won sets two and four. The Cougars rolled to a 25-14 first-set win behind five of Makenna Rockeman’s 13 kills. Abby Feyereisen and Barfnecht teamed up for blocks early to pad a lead and Rockeman carried the Cougars home to a 25-14 first-set win.
Texas A&M-Kingsville returned the favor with their highest kill output of the match, connecting on 17 kills at a .271 rate to even the match with a 25-22 win. USF responded with their most efficient set of the night, posting 16 kills with just four attack errors in set three. The set opened with neither team able to build a run, but after a 10-10 tie the Cougars pulled away. Five different Cougars recorded a kill, led by Yaksich and Barfnecht connecting on two each, and a six-point run capped by a block by Barfnecht and Feyereisen sealed the set, 25-16
As hot as the Cougars closed the third set, they were equally cold to start the fourth. USF surrendered the first four points of the frame and trailed by as many as nine. A late flurry sparked by three Yaksich kills cut the Cougars’ deficit in half, but they trailed by too much in a 25-18 set loss.
Seemingly deflated after hitting just nine kills at a .154 rate in the fourth set, USF’s offense was clicking in the decisive fifth set. Barfnecht and Scott each tallied two terminations for a slight edge then Rockeman connected on back-to-back kills for an 8-4 lead at the court change. Sioux Falls pushed ahead further, reeling off three more points for an 11-5 advantage, and every one of them was necessary as Texas A&M-Kingsville began to mount a comeback.
The Javelinas trimmed a six-point USF lead to three before Barfnecht’s clutch kill set the Cougars up with a match point at 14-10. TAMUK didn’t falter capitalizing on a pair of USF hitting error to pull within one point at 14-13. As Sioux Falls has done early this season, Hamstad set Barfnecht on the right side and the junior combo secured the final point with Barfnecth’s 17th kill for a 15-13 match-clinching win.
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