MONTGOMERY – For the first time this season the Jacksonville State volleyball team saw the fifth set, and it pulled off a hard-fought 3-2 (25-23, 25-18, 14-25, 20-25, 15-8) road win over Alabama State on Tuesday.
The Gamecocks (5-6) took the first two sets before the Hornets (4-10) fought back to take the next two and force a decisive fifth. JSU held off ASU in the final set to pick up its fifth win in the last seven matches.
“We played well enough to win,” JSU head coach Terry Gamble said. “We didn’t play our best but a positive is that on a night where we didn’t play well we found a way to get a win on the road. Nicole (Merget) played really well and really led us up front.”
Merget, a senior middle blocker from Canton, Mich., had 14 kills on a .364 attack percentage to lead the Gamecock offensive attack and pace a trio of JSU players with double figures in the kills column. Junior Emily Rutherford also had 14 kills in the win, while freshman Allyson Zuhlke added 13.
Rutherford was a dig shy of a double-double with nine, but it was fellow junior Samantha Bohne’s 21 that would lead the JSU back row. Freshman setter Jennifer Hart added 12 digs to go along with her 42 assists for her fourth double-double in the last five matches.
After taking a close opening set by two points, the Gamecocks seemed to take control of the match by claiming the second set 25-18 and taking a 2-0 lead. The Hornets wouldn’t go away before dropping JSU in the third set 25-14 and 25-20 in the fourth to tie the match and force a deciding fifth set.
In the fifth, ASU struck first, but the Gamecocks went on a surge that quickly pushed them to an 8-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After a tough 0-4 start to the season, the Gamecocks have turned things around to win five of their last seven matches.
JSU will look to maintain its winning form this weekend at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational, where it will open play against Northwestern State on Friday at 4 p.m. The Gamecocks will then take on the host Tigers Saturday at noon before finishing with Florida A&M at 5 p.m.
~ JSU Sportswire