ARLINGTON, Texas (11/20/16) – The Arkansas State volleyball team began strong, but couldn’t hold its lead as the Red Wolves fell to Coastal Carolina by a score of 3-1 (25-11, 23-25, 19-25, 21-25) in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship match Sunday afternoon at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.
The top-seeded Red Wolves (25-8) hit .268 in set one and held the No. 2 Chanticleers (27-4) to a .050 mark, but at the end of the contest A-State was at .162, the fourth-lowest of the season. Meanwhile, Coastal ended with a .196 percentage in what was a struggle for both offenses at times.
Carlisa May led A-State with 13 kills on a .100 hitting percentage, while Kenzie Fields registered 11 on a .119 percentage to go along with 11 digs for her sixth double-double of the year. Mallory Warrington posted her team-best 15th double-double with 45 assists and 16 digs, while Markie Schaedig led the team with 20 digs. Jessica Uke tied her career high with seven blocks as the Red Wolves had 11 blocks as a team compared to Coastal Carolina’s eight. Additionally, Uke added nine kills offensively, while fellow middle blocker Kelsey Reis posted eight kills and four blocks.
“Coastal Carolina is a really good team and we knew that,” A-State head volleyball coach David Rehr said. “We went five sets last time at their place and we burned a lot of energy in set one, trying to get it where it was. In set two, if we would have finished it, I thought we would have gotten a lot of momentum going into intermission. However, they came back to take that set and deflated our bubble a little bit.”
A-State raced out to a 10-4 lead in set one after a Uke kill and extended the advantage to 19-10 on a block by Uke and Shelby Holmes. The Red Wolves closed the set on a 6-1 run, capped by an ace by Schaedig, to win the opening game 25-11.
The second set was closer throughout with a block by Holmes and Uke giving the Red Wolves a 15-14 edge at the media timeout. A-State was able to take a 21-18 advantage on a service ace by Fields that forced a timeout by Coastal Carolina. A-State was ahead 22-19 after a block by Reis and Warrington, but four straight points by the Chanticleers put them in front 23-22 and forced a timeout by Arkansas State. A-State was within one point at 24-23 after a kill by Uke, but an error on a serve that was barely out gave Coastal a 25-23 set victory.
The third set was close early on with Coastal Carolina earning a 15-13 lead on an attack error at the media timeout. The Chanticleers led 19-17 and went on a 3-0 run to go ahead 22-17 to force a timeout by the Red Wolves. A-State couldn’t get any closer than four points and Coastal went on to claim a 25-19 victory for a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The fourth set was similar to the third with both teams trading points early, but Coastal created some separation at 17-12 to take control of the set. A-State didn’t go down quietly and clawed its way back to within two points at 23-21 after an attack error by CCU. However, a kill and attack error on a point initially awarded to the Red Wolves gave the Chanticleers a 25-21 set four win and 3-1 match victory for the SBC Tournament Championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
May and Warrington were named to the All-Tournament squad. May recorded 42 kills for a 4.20 per set average, while Warrington handed out 119 assists (11.90 per set) and posted 34 digs.
The Red Wolves entered the league tournament with a RPI of 53 with the NCAA Tournament Selection Show set for Sunday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. (CT).
If Arkansas State doesn’t receive an at-large invite it will end the careers of a stellar senior class featuring Warrington, Schaedig, Reis, Holmes, and Jessica Heuertz.
“They've meant everything to me,” Rehr continued. “They are the group that turned this thing around when we weren't doing so well. We didn't have a good culture and they built our culture. They are five kids that will forever be remembered as helping get us to where we are now.”Fans can follow the team on Twitter (@stAteVolleyball) and Instagram (astatevolleyball) along with liking the Arkansas State University Volleyball page on Facebook for the latest news and updates regarding the team.