After closing out the month of October on a high note, the Lady Govs had the same result once another page was turned in the calendar.
The confidence level was high coming into the final home match of the season, and Austin Peay “defended the Dunn” for the sixth time in nine opportunities on Saturday. The Lady Govs defeated Jacksonville 3-1 (26-24, 25-20, 19-25, 25-19), giving four seniors a memorable final game on their own hardwood.
“We talked about it in the locker room that there was no way we were losing on our senior weekend,” freshman Ashley Slay said. “Honestly, we played for them, and I just had them in mind the entire time, wanting to get the ‘W’ for them.”
Slay played a pivotal role from her middle blocker position, denying eight balls at the net, while also posting a career-high 13 kills. A pair of seniors — Hillary Plybon and Jada Stotts — also recorded 13 kills, which helped APSU hit .237 total in the match.
Liz Landon also stepped in to provide extra intensity with six kills, while Cami Fields recorded a double-double (27 assists, 13 digs) to continue the success shown by the seniors. A formation adjustment has allowed Fields to come in to give Aubrey Marsellis more opportunities to attack, and the Lady Govs have executed.
“We’ve been running a 5-1 offense with Aubrey for most of the season, but we decided that we needed a little more offense so we went back to the 6-2 with Cami, and she did a fantastic job” APSU assistant coach Brian Netzler said. “I can’t say enough about all our front row players. We’ve been moving people around doing different things, and they just took it in stride and executed fantastically.”
The first set had been unkind to the Lady Govs over the last couple weeks,but they were able to get off to a much better start on Saturday to win an opening set for the first time since Oct. 17. APSU hit an impressive .324 in the first frame, and followed that up with a .302 mark in the second to quickly take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
In the third, errors got the best of the home team as the Lady Govs committed nine, leading to a 25-19 win by the Gamecocks. But in the fourth, with the motivation of winning for the seniors on their minds, APSU pulled away to go undefeated on the weekend.
The win puts APSU at 7-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference, tied for fifth place. The Lady Govs now go on the road for the final four matches, beginning with a trip to Southeast Missouri on Friday, Nov. 7.
“We preach all the time that it doesn’t take talent to hustle,” Netzler said. “If we can keep that effort up and play with a lot of energy, then I think good things will happen the rest of the year.”
Photo: Ashley Slay extends for a block (Bailey Jones/The All State)