STATESBORO, Ga. - The Georgia Southern Volleyball team (0-2) opened the 2011 season with a pair of losses in the SpringHill Suites Invitational. The Eagles opened both matches with a first-set win, but ultimately fell 3-2 in a pair of hard-fought losses to Stephen F. Austin and South Dakota State.
Bethany Sanford (Avondale, Ariz.) posted double-digit kills in both matches including a career-high 26 kills in game two. Kate Van Dyke (Shawnee, Kan.) posted 56 assists in the second match along with 16 digs. Lauren LaRocque (Frisco, Texas) posted a team season-high 29 digs in the second contest of the day.
Stephen F. Austin (1-0) won the first contest 3-2 behind eight kills from Sabrina Burns and Katzy Randall. Lady Jacks Leslie Jackson and Monica Pannone added seven kills each. Georgia Southern got double-digit kill efforts from Sanford, Parker Small (Charlotte, N.C.) and Hannah Nelson (Norcross, Ga.) while Van Dyke posted 44 assists and nine digs. However, 11 reception errors and 25 attack errors proved the difference in a well-contested match.
The Eagles won sets one and four, but dropped the deciding fifth set 15-11 to the Lady Jacks. GSU opened the first match of the year with an 25-11 first-set victory, but quickly fell behind 2-1 after Stephen F. Austin won sets two and three 25-16 and 25-21, respectively. Georgia Southern rallied back to tie the match with a close 25-22 fourth-set victory before falling 15-11 in the fifth set.
Sanford posted a career-high 26 kills in the second match 3-2 loss to South Dakota State (2-0). GSU jumped ahead 2-0 with a pair of close 25-21, 25-22 set wins before the Jackrabbits rattled off three-straight set victories. South Dakota State won the third set 26-24 before taking sets four and five 25-23 and 15-10, respectively.
The Jackrabbits hit .230 for the match and exploded for a .327 hitting percentage for the fourth set and .438 for the fifth set. They also capitalized on 29 Eagle attack errors to win their second match of the tournament.
Jacksonville defeated Montana State 3-2 in game one on the day while South Dakota State defeated Montana State 3-1 in game three. Stephen F. Austin improved to 2-0 with a 3-1 victory over the Dolphins in game four of the Invitational.
Fans can follow their Eagles at GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com or receive short updates at facebook.com/GSAthletics, twitter.com/GSAthletics or on Google+ at gplus.to/GSAthletics.