Having already secured the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament by splitting a series against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns volleyball had one series left to play, and one reason left to play it – Senior Night.
In a Nov. 6 press conference, Head Coach Kristi Gray reflected on the season so far and the impression that her outgoing seniors have left on the team.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Gray said. “Last week at home, they each have their role that they play in our gym, whether it’s more so of a practice player or more of a go-to for us coming off the bench.”
“I know that the girls, they are going to be missed by their teammates. Hopefully we can go out with two wins for them this weekend.”
Gray saw this final pressure-free series as an opportunity to tune up the offense and get things ready for what was next.
“Working on a few things that we need to work on, not only going into this weekend but more so for the tournament, because yes, we want to win, we want to have our last two wins at home, we want the momentum going into the tournament… just focusing on what we can control,” Gray said.
Gray further explained that the main focus of the matches would be working to adapt to App State’s 6-2 rotation, an offense which they hadn’t faced all year and would need to be ready for in the coming weeks.
“I think the momentum is huge, because we’re playing a team that we’ve already played… I think it’s important to have momentum. ODU’s going to come wanting to beat us cause they know that they’ve done it already, and we have to be on when we play them cause they are a good team,” Gray said.
As alluded to, a Nov. 11 press release confirmed that the Cajuns’ first opponent of the playoffs would be the Old Dominion Mountaineers, with whom the team had split a series of matches in October.
With all this in mind, the Cajuns then returned to the Dome one last time to face the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Nov. 10.
In the first match, junior hitter Shyia Richardson led all players with 15 kills. Senior hitters Celeste Darling and Kara Barnes also combined for 13 kills. Barnes finished with great accuracy for volume .714 kill percentage leading all scorers.
Junior setter Siena DeCambria out-assisted the opposition by herself 32–27. Senior hitter Mya Wilson and Lauryn Hill also contributed to scoring with four kills each on a very efficient .667 percentage.
As usual, junior transfer Mio Yamamoto was excellent in her role with 15 digs, leading all players in that category.
The defense did its job, racking up 16 blocks to App State’s 10 to win the match in straight sets, 25–15, 25–11, 28–26.
In the second match on Nov. 11, Hill took over offensively, leading the team with 15 kills on 31 attempts. DeCambria played the full game, again leading all players with 48 assists, and Darling provided an extra boost with 14 kills of her own.
The Cajuns came back after dropping the first set to win a tightly-contested match, 12–25, 25–16, 25-16, 16–25, 15–8..
Next up, the Cajuns play their first match of the SBC Tournament against the ODU in Foley, AL on Thursday, Nov. 16.