The Appalachian State Mountaineers (19-4, 12-0 Sun Belt) fell into a sort of “Sunday slump” this weekend as they took on the University of Southern Alabama Jaguars (13-11, 7-6 Sun Belt). For the second time this season the Mountaineers battled the Jaguars, this time at home, and the result was roughly the same.
In the first set, however, App struggled to get much of anything going. Scoring the first point, the Jags took over and never let go. The Mountaineers were able to stay close throughout the set, tying the score four times, but were unable to grab hold of the lead. After a 13-9 lead for Southern Alabama, head coach Matt Ginipro, filled with frustration, called a much needed timeout to try and regroup and end the Jaguars hot streak.
The timeout proved effective, as App State went on a five point streak to tighten the lead to 15-14. However, after a South Alabama timeout, the momentum was killed and the Jags regained control. Outside hitter Emily Corrigan, who had a very low hitting percentage of negative-.154 in the first set, was able to strike an ace and eventually bring the score to 17-17. With four kills from Jess Keller and Ashton Gregory, App was able to tie the game once more at 22-22, but after a Jag timeout, the Mountaineers fell 25-22.
“We were playing not to lose instead of to win,” Ginipro said of the first set.
Paige Brown and Jess Keller both agreed that it was a common theme in the Holmes Center, and Brown went on to say that they “weren’t expecting South Alabama to play as well as they did.”
The second set started off right for the Mountaineers, as they scored the first two points and quickly took a 5-2 lead. The Jaguars did fight back hard, though, as they managed to tie the game twice at 5-5 and 7-7. Refusing to fall into the same slump as earlier in the match, App State played hard, taking an 18-12 lead and later 21-14. For this set, the Mountaineers managed to finish strong and take a 25-17 win and a lot of things to talk about to the locker room.
After the break, what seemed to look like a different team came out to play in the third and fourth set. Scoring first in both sets, App managed to control the rest of the game. Starting the third set with a 9-4 lead, App State never let the Jaguars come close. Even after two South Alabama timeouts, the Mountaineers took a 14-7 and a 22-9 lead. After a few mishits, the ‘Neers were able to win the set 25-14.
The fourth set was closer with the Jags managing to tie the game 8 times before the Mountaineers took a 10-9 lead. At that point, Emily Corrigan took the ball and began to serve. Even after a Jag timeout, Corrigan continued to serve her way until they had racked up a 14 point streak grasping a 23-9 lead and later winning the set 25-11 and the match 3-1.
The conversation after the game was consumed with talk about errors. Ginipro pointed out that out of the twelve errors in the first set, outside hitters Corrigan and Keller contributed to seven out of the twelve.
Next weekend, App State finishes up in the Holmes Center against Georgia Southern on Friday (Senior Day) and the much awaited Arkansas State on Sunday. Even though the battle of the unbeaten is looked forward to by many, the team refuses to look past Georgia Southern despite a 3-0 sweep against them on Oct. 23.
Story by: Noah Gerringer, Intern Sports Reporter