HUNTSVILLE – Four players reached double digits in kills as the University of North Alabama volleyball team clinched a berth in the 2010 Gulf South Conference Tournament with a 3-1 road victory Tuesday evening at Alabama-Huntsville. The 25-22, 25-27, 25-20, 25-20 win gives UNA its GSC-leading 29th appearance in the conference tournament, which includes every post-season trip since the conference began awarding championships in women's sports in 1982.
Although UAH was able to snap the Lions' winning streak of 33 consecutive sets in the all-time series, the 3-1 victory did run the overall match winning streak over the Chargers to 27 dating back to the 1999 season. The victory also gives UNA 16-7 overall record this season, including a 5-1 record in GSC play. With the loss, UAH drops to 9-21, with a 2-4 league record.
Sarah Roberts had seven kills in the opening set as the Lions overcame an 18-15 lead to post the win. Five straight points gave UNA a 20-18 lead and the visitors never trailed again in the 25-22 victory.
In the second set, it was UNA that had the 18-15 lead before the Chargers rallied for a victory. The Lions pushed the advantage to set point at 24-21 before the home team scored four straight points to find new life. After a kill by Natalie Marsh tied the game at 25-25, UAH used consecutive kills of its own to claim a 27-25 win.
Alabama-Huntsville held a 15-12 lead in the third set before five straight points by UNA flipped momentum. Marsh and Ari Smith had two kills each while the Chargers had an attack error as the Lions took a 17-15 advantage. Another UAH error on set point gave the Lions a 25-20 victory.
After the Chargers took an early 2-0 lead in the fourth set, kills by Roberts, Smith and Hope Rayburn gave UNA a 3-2 and the Lions never trailed again. Cara Gregg had five kills in the final set to help secure the win.
Overall, Roberts finished the night with a match-high 16 kills. Marsh also turned in a solid performance with 15 kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Her 12 digs also gives her nine double-doubles on the year. Smith finished with 11 kills for the Lions while Gregg added 10 kills on the night. Rayburn also notched her third career double-double with 10 digs and 55 assists.
Defensively, Lauren Greenhill led the way with 18 digs. Brigid O'Brien also reached double figures in the category with 12 digs for the match.
The Lions will hit the road for a pair of key GSC matches this weekend. UNA will play at 7 p.m. Friday evening at West Florida before traveling to face host Valdosta State at 3 p.m. the following day.