Spartans Use Heart, But Narrowly Fall To First-Place Lady Ospreys, 3-2

Sept. 19, 2008

Final Stats

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Down 6-1 in the third set and facing a 2-0 deficit in sets, the USC Upstate volleyball team rallied off eight straight points and carried that momentum all the way to a deciding fifth set with the first-place University of North Florida in Atlantic Sun Conference action on Friday night at the Hodge Center, but UNF used another 6-1 run to open the final set and sneak away with a 3-2 (25-20, 25-23, 16-25, 21-25, 15-10) win.

The Spartans (3-8 overall, 1-3 A-Sun) were ignited by a career-high 22 kills from senior Jovana Lubura (Belgrade, Serbia/New Mexico Military Institute) and a career-high 27 assists from senior Holly Mauldin (Columbia, S.C./Irmo) to force the first-place Lady Ospreys (6-3 overall, 4-0 A-Sun) to the deciding set. Mauldin also posted her 10th double-double since the Spartans moved to Division I in 2007, becoming the first Spartan to do so, thanks to her 15 digs. Mauldin also added a career-high two blocks in the match.

Senior Jenna Leslie (Houston, Texas/Westfield) posted a huge match from the right side, as she notched six kills, hitting .357, to go with 10 digs and two blocks. Sophomore Megan Healey (St. Louis, Mo./Ursuline Academy) added three service aces and a match-high 18 digs as the team's libero and sophomore Sandra Campbell (Houston, Texas/Pilot Point (Texas)) notched 10 kills and also tied a season-high with four blocks. Freshmen Kelsie Queen (Blythewood, S.C./Ridge View), who had six kills, six digs and two blocks, and Morgan Thomas (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), who had two kills, two aces, four digs and four blocks, also contributed to the comeback.

Down 6-1 in the third set after a 25-20 opening-set loss and a narrow 25-23 loss in the second set, Upstate took a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, an Osprey service error sent Healey to the service line, where she stayed for eighth straight points, thanks to two service aces and kills from both Thomas and Lubura. An UNF timeout couldn't stop the Upstate momentum, as a kill from Campbell extended the lead to 15-10 before a block by Queen and Campbell made it a six-point advantage. Another block from Queen and Thomas gave Upstate a 23-15 advantage and after a Spartan attack error, Mauldin used a sneak attack to get a point. A Lady Osprey attack error closed the set.

The momentum had clearly changed to the Upstate side in the fourth set as the teams fought to a 5-5 tie before a kill from Lubura, two Osprey attack errors and a service ace from Lubura opened up a 9-5 lead. The Spartans ran the lead to six after another kill from Lubura made it 17-11. From there, the Ospreys closed within four before a Thomas service ace extended the lead back to seven at 22-15. The Ospreys closed the lead to three at 24-21, but another Lubura kill closed the set.

In the fifth set, the Spartans fell behind 2-1 after a service error and the Ospreys ran off four more points thanks to two service aces, making the score 6-1. This time, the Ospreys weathered a furious comeback from Upstate, as a kill from Lubura made the score 8-6 and an Osprey attack error let the Spartans within one. However, kills from Danielle Lerch and Kaley Read gave the Ospreys an 11-7 win. From there, the Ospreys and Spartans played sideout-to-sideout, with only Lerch throwing in a kill off her serve to help the Ospreys to final a 15-10 win.

UNF got 23 kills, 15 digs and six blocks from Read, 12 kills and 14 digs from Lerch and 10 kills from Bary Rasmussen. Julie Fye added 28 assists and 13 digs and Chelsea Rabe aldo posted 13 digs. Marshay Greenlee added seven kills and four blocks.

The Spartans stay at home on Saturday, facing Jacksonville in another Atlantic Sun Conference matchup at the Hodge Center at 3 p.m.