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Sept. 4, 2009
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - In the end, the USC Upstate volleyball team won its fifth straight home opener. It just took a little while longer to get it done.
The Citadel fought off six match points, but Upstate fought off one of its own and turned the tide to hold on for a 3-2 (25-12, 22-25, 25-21, 28-30, 15-17) win in a gutsy, gritty match on Friday night at the Hodge Center in the USC Upstate Volleyball Classic.
Six players finished the match with double-doubles, led by four from The Citadel (1-5 overall), as Tatum Jestilla posted 18 kills and 15 digs, Alyssa Holum added 49 assists and 17 digs, Jessica Maas notched 14 kills and 14 digs and Jessica Maxwell posted 12 kills and 10 digs. The Spartans (3-2 overall) got double-doubles from senior Morgan Bucciferro (Joliet, Ill./Minooka Community), who posted 34 assists and 11 digs and freshman Paige Weiland (Atlanta, Ga./The Marist School), who added 14 kills and 16 digs.
Sophomore Kelsie Queen (Blythewood, S.C./Ridge View) used two fifth-set kills to finish with a career-high 19 to pass Jestilla for the match high, while the Spartan defense stood tall by posting a D-I era record 16 blocks in the match, including eight a piece from junior Erin Jacobsen (Virginia, Minn./Iowa Lakes C.C.) and sophomore Morgan Thomas (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas). Jacobsen also added 16 kills and Thomas posted 12.
The Spartans, who hit a season-high .295 (70-19-173), made a mad dash back into the fifth set. After falling behind 9-4, a kill by junior Katie Downey (Belleville, Ill./Belleville West) set up a three-point service from freshman Mindy Quimby (Keenesburg, Colo./Weld Central). Each of those points were won as Upstate posted a block, fist by Thomas and Downey, then a solo block from Thomas followed by a dual block from Thomas and Downey to cut the lead to 9-8. An ace from Bucciferro tied the set at 10 and another block, this time from Jacobsen and Downey, gave Upstate its first lead. An attack error and kills from Jacobsen and Queen helped Upstate to a 14-12 lead, but the Bulldogs scored three points in a row to take a 15-14 lead. However, a kill from Jacobsen swung the momentum in Upstate's favor and a kill by Queen was followed by a Bulldogs' attack error to end the match.
The Bulldogs held off three Spartan match points in the fourth set to force the deciding match, as a kill by Rachel Farrell and a Spartan attack error helped the Bulldogs to take the set, 30-28. Upstate, remarkably, fought back from a 19-9 deficit in the set thanks to eight straight points off the serve of freshman Emily Sanders (Sullivan, Ill./Sullivan) to cut the lead to 19-17. The run featured two kills a piece from Queen and Thomas and two aces from Sanders. Upstate kept the pressure on, tying the match at 22 and taking the lead at 23-22 thanks to two kills from Weiland. The teams traded sideouts from there until Farrell's kill gave The Citadel a 29-28 advantage.
With the score 13-12 in the third set, the Spartans went on a 6-1 run thanks to a block and a kill from Jacobsen, helping them take control en route to the 25-21 win. The Bulldogs benefited from a two service aces from the strong serve of Rachel Farrell in the second set to break a 16 all tie en route to a 25-22 win.
The Spartans started the match blazing hot, as it hit .429 in the opening set to cruise to a 25-123 win. Queen had four kills and Weiland had three in the set as Upstate closed the set on a 10-2 run. Junior Megan Healey (St. Louis, Mo./Ursuline Academy) notched a season-high 23 digs, becoming the 16th player in school history to reach 800 career digs in the process with her seventh dig of the night. Sanders finished with 22 assists, nine digs and three aces. Downey added seven kills and four blocks.
In other action during the first day of the Upstate Volleyball Classic, N.C. State downed The Citadel, 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-21 ) and UNC Asheville downed N.C. State, 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-18).
The teams will wrap up the third annual USC Upstate Volleyball Classic on Saturday, with Upstate hosting N.C. State at 10:30 a.m. before The Citadel plays UNC Asheville at 1:30 p.m. The classic will wrap up at 4:30 p.m. as Upstate will face UNC Asheville.