Volleyball ends play in Jax State Invitational with sweep of Jackson State

UNO Athletics

The University of New Orleans volleyball team concluded the weekend on a positive note, earning a victory over a 2015 NCAA National Tournament participant in a 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-17, 25-12) over reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference champions Jackson State.

New Orleans (3-7) defense stifled the Jackson State (0-10) offense, holding them to under .050 hitting percentages in all three sets with a final mark of .012.

“We are glad to be able to leave this tournament on a high note,” head coach Millicent Van Norden said. “We know the work we have ahead and this match we were able to identify some challenge areas and work on them specifically in the match.”

The Privateers offense was led by junior Rondolyn Bryant (Exercise Physiology) who finished with a match-high eight kills off a .375 clip with a solo block, followed by sophomore Blessing Dunn (Business Management) and freshman Brianna Vega (Biological Sciences) with six apiece. Senior Keke Richards (Business Management) continued to raise her hitting percentage with her fourth-consecutive finishing .500 or higher, finishing with five kills off 10 attempts with no errors to make her season hitting percentage .452. Freshman Sarah Thomas (Accounting & Finance) dished out the ball and ended the match with a game-high 28 assists.

Defensively, Dunn paced the team with 14 of a team-total 40 digs with sophomore Samantha Uline (Exercise Physiology) chipping in eight and junior Cara Sanders (Marketing) having six. The Privateers finished the match with four solo blocks with Dunn, Bryant, Richards and Thomas all posting one.

UNO took control of the opening set early, using a 7-1 run with a pair of kills from Bryant and Vega pushing the royal blue and silver to a 10-4 advantage. Jackson State clawed their way back into the frame, making it 13-11 before back-to-back points by the Privateers recreated a four-point cushion at 15-11. The Privateers pushed the lead to six at 19-13 and held a comfortable lead for the remainder of the opening stanza.

In similar fashion to the previous set, New Orleans opened up with an early run to create a 10-2 lead. JSU scored four of the following six points to make it 12-6 before a block from Thomas and a kill from Dunn highlighted a 3-0 run to push the advantage to nine at 15-6. The Privateers fended off a late Tigers run to take the second set 25-17.

The Privateers took the final set by a demanding 25-12 score, holding Jackson State to consecutive points only twice with the first spree of back-to-back points knotting up the score at 3-all. With the score tied up 4-4, Bryant sparked a 7-0 run for UNO with a termination to put the royal blue and silver ahead 11-4. Freshman Jordan Yauch (Biological Science) and sophomore Kaitlyn Grice (Biology) both logged kills in the decisive run with Sanders posting a service ace. UNO extended the separation to 10 at 18-8 and used a 5-0 run with kills from Richards, Grice and Yauch to solidify the double-digit lead at 23-19. Jackson State responded with their second back-to-back point run of the set, but UNO ended the run with a point.

“I have always felt that the team is committed to our mission and vision,” Van Norden concluded, “but we are learning as we go. I believe that over the next few weeks we will turn the corner in the right direction.”

The Privateers conclude the tournament schedule in the Omni Invitational from Sept. 16-17 in Boulder, Colorado. The Privateers are back in action today at 2 p.m., when they conclude play in the Jax State Invitational against Jackson State. UNO’s first home match is slated for Thursday, Sept. 22, when the Privateers play host to Houston Baptist in the Human Performance Center. First serve for the contest is slated for 7 p.m. and admission is free.