Arkansas-Pine Bluff volleyball coach Kyetta May thinks she’s found the right rotation for her team. The rest of the Southwestern Athletic Conference should consider itself warned.
UAPB (4-13) improved to 2-0 at home with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-16 sweep of Mississippi Valley State (3-11) on Monday at H.O. Clemmons Arena.
Although the match does not count as a conference game, because the teams are from opposite divisions, the Lady Lions improved to 2-2 in matches this season against SWAC opponents.
UAPB was swept 26-24, 25-21, 25-23 by Grambling State in its only technical conference matchup. UAPB defeated Jackson State 25-12, 25-23, 26-24 in the University of Central Arkansas Tournament, but fell to Alabama State just two days ago in the Alabama State/ISTAP Collegiate Cup, in which the team went 1-3 overall.
“We’ve been trying to find the chemistry,” May said after her team’s win. “You have to be ready mentally.
“We think we’ve found our eight (players), so you may get a break, you may not. It will help us when all is said and done.“
In all three sets of Monday’s match, UAPB was able to go on a sustained run to pull away from MVSU.
“We’ve had so many matches,” May said. “We have a little more stamina, and we’re able to push through and stay mentally strong.
“And we are not panicking, so we are able to keep up our composure.”
On the other side of the net, MVSU struggled to string together points. Until a 5-0 run late in the third set, the Devilettes’ longest run was 3-0, accomplished twice in the first set and thrice in the second set.
In the first set, the Devilettes led 17-12 before the Lady Lions scored five straight points to tie the score. Later in the set, MVSU led 22-21, but UAPB scored the final four points capped by an ace by sophomore Ayanna Parker.
In the next set, the Lady Lions led 11-10 then went on a 5-1 spurt to put some space between them and the Devilettes. MVSU responded to narrow the gap to two at 18-16, but UAPB answered with a 3-0 run and went on to win the set.
In the final set, UAPB held a two-point lead at 9-7 before going on a 10-2 run to blow the set open and cruise to a 25-16 win.
The two-set lead and big advantage in the third set allowed May to use all of her bench players.
“It is extremely important,” she said of those players gaining experience. “Being able to use people and build more depth is huge, so maybe we can give our six to eight main players more breathers.
“(The bench players) just need to be able to come in confident and ready to contribute, and I think they were tonight.”
The Lady Lions used a very balanced attack with five players finishing with 8 to 10 kills.
Junior Ashlie Jones led the way with 10 kills, Parker had nine kills to go along with two aces and two blocks, while freshman Whitney Harris, sophomore Courtney Billups and junior Audrey Sherles finished with eight kills each.