MONROE, La – The ULM volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to snap a seven-match losing skid with a 3-2 (18-25, 25-27, 25-22, 26-24, 15-10) win over I-20 rival Louisiana Tech Tuesday night at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
“It is great to be back home,” head coach Charlie Olson said. “We’ve played some great competition that has helped us prepare for times like this.
The first set was close until the midway point. Louisiana Tech had its lead cut to one at 14-13 on a kill by freshman Avery Cole, but LA Tech scored the next three points to pull back away and eventually went on to the 25-18 win.
The Warhawks began set two with a white-hot offense. ULM pushed out to a 9-2 lead. LA Tech was able to fight back into the set due to great play along the net resulting in 13 blocks on the night. The Lady Techsters went on a 19-3 run to go ahead 21-12. Senior Cali Assaley subbed in with her team trailing 18-11 and gave ULM a second chance at taking the set. The Warhawks used a 5-0 spurt to get back in the set at 21-18. ULM kept chipping away until a kill by Cole put the Warhawks ahead 24-23. However, LA Tech fought off set point and eventually rallied back for the 27-25 win.
Even though ULM trailed 2-0, they carried the momentum from their late surge in the second set to stop the sweep and take set three. ULM stole the lead from the Lady Techsters at 7-6 and stayed in front except for a brief tie at 13. ULM kept pulling away and went on to take the third set, 25-22, and trailed the match, 3-1. Cole and Assaley had nine kills each in the third set.
Assaley topped her performance in the third set with 10 more kills in set four. Three straight errors late put the Warhawks in prime position to close out with ULM ahead 22-21. Once again, the two teams extended the set before Assaley ended it at 26-24 with her 24th kill of the night.
By the final set, all momentum was with the Warhawks. ULM rolled out to a 7-1 lead over the Lady Techsters. LA Tech went on a scoring spree topped off with back-to-back aces to pull within a point at 7-6. However, ULM responded again, this time with three straight points to go back up 11-7. Cole sealed the 15-10 win with the final three Warhawk kills.
“We’ve been in some deep five-setters like tonight, and we’ve won some and lost some,” Olson said. “We have to celebrate our small wins along the way so we can celebrate our big wins like tonight.”
Assaley made her return to action and was pivotal in ULM’s comeback victory over the Lady Techsters. Her 28 kills rank second at ULM in a five-set match since the switch to 25-point rally scoring before the 2008 season. Cole also had a huge night with 26 kills, which ranks fourth in a five-set match. Junior Mariana Volponi e Giordan set her team up well with 38 assists. Junior Madeline Hogan finished with 26 digs.
“We’re always looking for that second and third person who can step up and help us get points and Avery [Cole] had an incredible night,” Olson said.
The Warhawks takes to the road for their final invitational tournament of the season. They play three games this weekend in the Stephen F. Austin Tournament in Nacogdoches, Texas.