The Thunderbirds rolled in the first half, hitting .367 behind 13 kills on 30 attempts and only two errors. The performance provided a lead from start-to-finish for SUU and kills by Kylie Schofield, Ann Clappier and Alissa Youart down the stretch punctuated the set for the T-Birds 25-17.
UALR answered with its best attacking performance of the match, a .424 clip (16-2-33) in the second set, but was unable to take the lead until late in the frame. The Trojans broke a 19-19 tie, one of nine during the set, with back-to-back kills to take only their third advantage of the stanza at 21-19. A Taylor Heine kill and Sariah Pelaez service ace squared the match again at 21-21, but UALR countered with three consecutive points to capture set point at 24-21. Another Heine kill on the ensuing play prolonged the set, but a final UALR kill wrapped up the frame 25-22 and tied the match at 1-1.
The Trojans needed late set heroics again in the third set after Southern Utah came back to tie the stanza 19-19 after trailing 18-14. UALR then rattled off four straight points to take a 23-19 lead, but Southern Utah came back to within one, 23-22, on a Pelaez kill. The Trojans followed with a kill of their own, drawing a set point at 24-22, but an Annie Stradling kill pulled the T-Birds back to within one at 24-23. UALR escaped with the set thanks to a kill on the next play to take a 2-1 lead with a 25-23 victory.
The tables turned in the fourth set as Southern Utah scored the first three points of the frame and captured a set point at 24-18 before UALR made a comeback. The Trojans scored five straight points to pull within one, 24-23, but a final Schofield kill for Southern Utah tied the match at 2-2 and gave the T-Birds the 25-23 win.
Despite forcing a fifth set with the fourth-set victory, SUU was unable to connect offensively in the definite set, hitting -.143 while committing six errors on 14 attempts with only four kills. The production soured the T-Birds chances for victory as UALR marched to a 10-5 advantage and the closed out the set and match with an Edina Begic kill, one of a match-best 30 for the junior from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Schofield and Heine tied for the team lead for Southern Utah with 14 kills each and were joined in double figures by Stradling (13) and Youart (10). Schofield and Youart also recorded double-doubles, Youart's second consecutive, with 11 and 13 digs, respectively. Joanna Christenson also tallied a double-double with 49 assists and 13 digs, while Jenna Bradfield led all defenders with a team-best 14 digs during the match.
Southern Utah will now turn their attention to conference play when the Thunderbirds open their Big Sky slate with Weber State and Idaho State in the Centrum Arena on Thursday and Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with live stats anticipated to be available online at www.suutbirds.com.