ARLINGTON, Texas – Coming off of a gut-wrenching loss to UALR on Friday night, the UT Arlington bounced back in a four-set win over South Alabama on Sunday afternoon at College Park Center.
While the Mavericks feel that there is still room for improvement, UT Arlington coach Diane Seymour saw her team’s ability to win while not playing its best as a positive sign.
“They talk about it in sports that sometimes good teams don’t have to play their best to win,” Seymour said. “I hope that’s who we are and I think that’s who we are, but I want us to play better too.”
The win puts the Mavericks at 22-7 this season and 12-5 in the Sun Belt while South Alabama falls to 10-16 overall with a 5-11 conference record.
Briana Sharratt and Stacey Koch paced the Mavericks offensively as the pair recorded 14 and 12 kills respectively. Koch hit .360 in the match while Sharratt hit .323 to go along with five blocks.
“It was really important for us to win today,” Sharratt said. “We’ve been getting up on
our home wins and Friday was a downer for us. So we really needed this before we get on the road to get our spirits up.”
Defensively it was a trio of players in Taylor Story, Caitlyn Cooney and Qiana Canete who helped hold the Jaguars to just .144 hitting. Story recorded a career-high 23 digs in the match while Cooney registered 21 digs. Canete’s twenty digs were complimented by one block and 11 kills in the match.
“We started off kind of slow tonight, but we brought the energy back after the intermission and that’s really what we needed,” Canete said “We got out there and did what we had to do.”
Amanda Welsh and Cassidy Wheeler served as the catalysts for the Mavericks offense as the duo recorded 25 kills each.
Trailing 16-10 in the first set, UTA responded with four straight points highlighted by a Bennett and Canete block, cutting the Jaguars lead to two points at 16-14. Later in the set down 23-18, the Mavericks went on a 3-1 run that included a block by Taylor Gross and Sharratt, making the score 24-21, but the Jaguars closed out the set 25-21.
Ashley Bennett and Sharratt paced the Mavs through the opening set as the pair of players recorded three kills apiece. Story led the charge defensively as the senior DS recorded ten digs in the set. Cooney also chipped in defensively, notching eight digs in the opening frame.
Holding on to an 8-6 lead early in the second set, UTA answered back with a 9-4 run that was capped off with a Cooney service ace, putting the Mavs on top 17-10. South Alabama then cut the lead to four points at 17-13, but that was as close as it would get as the Mavericks closed out the set on top 25-19.
Canete, Sharratt and Koch paced UTA offensively in the second set as the trio recorded three kills each. Canete also got in on the act defensively as the freshman registered seven digs in the set. Welsh directed the Maverick offense as the Austin native notched ten assists in the set.
With the third set tied at ten points, UTA scored five straight points which included four USA hitting errors and a block by Gross and Sharratt to put the Mavs on top 15-10. Trailing by as much as seven in the set, the Jaguars were able to get within five points at 23-18, but UTA dashed any hopes of USA evening the match as the Mavericks took the set 25-18.
Gross and Canete led UT Arlington in kills in the third set as both players recorded three kills and a hitting percentage of .429. Wheeler guided the Mavericks offense as the sophomore setter notched six assists in the set.
With the fourth set tied at 13, UTA used an 11-6 run to go onto 24-19 thanks to a Canete kill. USA was able to hold off the Mavericks on two straight match points, making the score 24-21 before a Koch kill ended the set 25-21 and the match 3-1.
Sharratt and Koch came alive in the fourth set as the pair of players recorded six and five kills respectively. Sharratt put together an astounding hitting percentage of .857 in the set while Koch hit .571 in the set. Wheeler set the tone for the UTA offense, recording ten assists in the set. Story and Cooney spurred the Mavs defensively as the pair of players recorded six kills apiece.
The Mavericks hit .218 in the match while holding the Jaguars to just .144 hitting.
Next up for UT Arlington is a trip to Lafayette, La. where it will square off with Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.