The Arkansas-Pine Bluff volleyball team had fallen on hard times lately.
Since beating Alcorn State in their second match of the year, the Lady Lions dropped their next five matches and all in straight sets.
During Tuesday’s home nonconference match against Mississippi Valley State, UAPB dropped the first set, which seemed to be a sign of a continuing trend. But the Lady Lions rebounded and took the next three sets to beat the Devilettes 21-25, 25-22, 25-18 and 25-15.
“We are so excited because we have been in a slump,” UAPB right-side hitter Audrey Sherles said. “Hopefully this gives us some momentum because we are going to start SWAC play soon.”
Sherless lead a spread-out attack for UAPB, too. She finished the match with 22 kills and a 52.9 percent hitting percentage.
“I just swing,” she said. “I love to swing. That’s what I do, just hit and hopefully it helps the team.”
Alicia Campbell followed with 15 kills and 16 digs for UAPB (2-6). Ashlie Jones had 10 kills, Alexis Lowe had 28 assists and Jordan Foyer had 24 assists and 10 digs. Brea Clayton added 17 digs.
UAPB finished last in the SWAC West Division last year with a 1-7 conference record, but first-year coach Kyetta May think her team should be going after the West title right away.
The Lady Lions’ two wins this year have come against SWAC opponents, even though both were nonconference matches.
“With me being familiar with the SWAC, I told the girls that there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to compete in the SWAC,” she said. “Just keeping them focused, I think we can do pretty well in the SWAC and just take it one step at a time.”
UAPB took a 1-0 lead to start the first set and did not lead the rest of the way. The Lady Lions tied it at 16, 17 and 20 before MVSU (1-7) ended the opening set on a 5-1 run.
Sherles said the team just had to rebound and play their game after the first-set loss.
“We played down to their level,” she said. “We came back and talked about keeping our energy level up and playing to 25 every time.”
MVSU won the first point of the second set and then did not lead again after UAPB took a 7-1 lead.
“We talked about jumping out early, staying out early and stay in a five-point increment of the lead,” May said. “If we are up five points, most likely we will finish the game.”
UAPB had about a five-point for most of the second set. MVSU had a 3-0 run to pull within two points at 24-22 before an attack error won the set for UAPB.
UAPB led for much of the third set. MVSU tied it at 10, 16 and 17 before the Lady Lions ended on an 8-1 run for the win.
May said her team just wore down MVSU.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the stamina,” she said. “When we see a team kind of getting down, our stamina should kick in and should help us to come out on top.”
Up 5-4 in the fourth set, UAPB went on an 8-1 run and cruised to a 25-15 victory.