From UNA release:
PENSACOLA, Fla., – Trailing 13-8 in the fifth set against top seed West Florida, the University of North Alabama volleyball team scored seven straight points to claim the 2015 Gulf South Conference championship in five sets Sunday afternoon. The 30-28, 14-25, 25-15, 24-26, 15-13 victory gives UNA a 26-7 record on the season and the GSC’s automatic berth to the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
The UNA comeback came after the host Argonauts had rallied from a double-digit deficit in the fourth set to force a deciding game. UWF carried the momentum into the final set, jumping out to an 11-6 lead to prompt a timeout by the Lions. Each team scored twice to give the Argonauts the five-point lead and set the stage for the final rally.
Kills by Jessica Austin and Natasha Fomina, along with an attack error on West Florida cut the deficit to 13-11 and forced a UWF timeout. After the Argonauts were called for a lift, UNA’s Andrea De Leon recorded a kill to tie set and prompt the last timeout.
After the break, Lexie Bradley got a kill to give the Lions the lead, then recorded a solo block to end the match. The GSC title is the 17th for North Alabama and the first for since 2006. Austin finished with a career-high 23 kills and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. De Leon and Ashtyn Kapovich, who served eight straight times during the final UNA rally, were also each named to the all-tournament team.
In the opening set, UNA led by as many as six before the Argonauts rallied to force extra points. The Lions were up 21-15 when a 9-3 UWF run tied the score at 24-24. The game featured seven set points, including three by the Argos. UWF led 28-27 before three straight points by the Lions ended the game. A kill by Jessica Austin gave UNA a 29-28 lead and an attack error by West Florida ended the set. Austin finished with six kills in the first frame.
The Argonauts tied the match at 1-1 with a dominating performance in the second set. UWF hit .438 in the game and never trailed in the 25-14 victory.
North Alabama answered in third set with a double-digit win of its own. The Lions raced out to an 11-5 lead and grabbed the overall lead in the match with a 25-15 victory. Austin again led the way with six kills while UWF hit just .045 as a team.
West Florida rallied from a nine-point deficit to stay alive in the fourth set. UNA led 18-9 before the Argonauts used a 15-4 run to take a 24-22 lead. The Lions fought off two set points before a kill gave the home team a 26-24 victory.
For the match, Fomina finished with 15 kills and 10 digs. Bradley added 13 kills and a .379 hitting percentage. She also had nine blocks on the day, including the one that clinched the championship. De Leon added 52 assists.
Defensively, Kapovich recorded a match-high 26 digs. Sarah Ann Tillery added 22 digs while Peyton Lang produced 13 digs on the day. West Florida (28-6) was led by Kathryn Torre’s 13 kills.
The NCAA Division II South Region Tournament will be Dec. 3-5 on the campus of the top seed. North Alabama will learn its opponent during an online selection show at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening. Information on the upcoming tourney can be found at www.roarlions.com