The Ragin' Cajuns volleyball team completed a season sweep of defending Sun Belt West champion North Texas by claiming a 3-2 (26-28, 25-18, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11) win Sunday afternoon at the Mean Green Volleyball Center in Denton, Texas.
Louisiana (10-14, 2-6 Sun Belt) used the same formula that led to a four-set victory over the Mean Green on Oct. 2 at Earl K. Long Gym - a hitting percentage above .200. The Cajuns threw down 63 kills (second-highest tally of the season) and finished with a .238 hitting percentage.
Lavinia Tataran led the way with a season-and career-high 18 kills at a .255 clip. Tataran added 13 digs, marking her third straight match in double figures, for her fourth double-double of the season.
Mandi Gavin guided the Cajuns offensive attack with 46 assists and also posted a match-high 22 digs. Gavin posted a double-double for the seventh time in the past eight matches.
Lesley Mirarchi (11), Kaylee Nemeth (10) and Tonice White (10) added double figures in kills.
With the win the Cajuns improved to 2-1 in five-set matches. UL swept North Texas (12-13, 3-6 Sun Belt) for the first time since 2008 and only the fourth time since the Mean Green joined the Sun Belt in 2000.
Shelley Morton and Eboni Godfrey both posted double-doubles for NT. Morton racked up 16 kills and 15 digs, and Godfrey wasn't far behind with 16 kills and 11 digs. The Mean Green held a slight 66-63 advantage in kills.
UL's defense stood tall in the five-set triumph. The Cajuns piled up 76 digs and reached double figures in blocks against the Mean Green for the second time this season finishing with 12.
The opening set featured 16 ties and six lead changes. A ball handling error by the Mean Green's Kayla Saey dropped the hosts lead to 12-11 and from that point on until the end of the set the teams were never separated by more than one point.
A Tataran kill evened the score at 26-all, but North Texas answered with kills from Morton and Hallie McDonald to claim the set 28-26.
UL made quick work of the Mean Green in the second set to pull even in the match. The Cajuns needed just 24 attempts to record 14 kills and a sizzling .458 hitting percentage led to a 25-18 victory.
The Cajuns used an 11-3 run in the third set to erase a 9-5 advantage the Mean Green held. Trailing 12-11, UL capped off the run with five consecutive points of which four came via a kill.
An attack error by Mirarchi drew NT within one point, 22-21, but the Cajuns held on as the hosts self destructed with a service error, bad set and attack error in succession.
NT raced out to a 9-2 lead at the onset of the fourth set and coupled with the Cajuns lowest hitting percentage of the match (.091) was able to force the decisive fifth set.
Twice the Cajuns rallied in the final set to seal the victory. Down 3-1, a Mirarchi kill, Taylor Meade ace, Mirarchi and Gavin block and Nemeth kill opened a 5-3 lead.
Facing a 10-9 deficit a 5-0 run finished off the Mean Green. Tataran drew UL even with a kill and a Godfrey attack error gave the Cajuns an 11-10 lead. Tataran capped off the run with her 18th kill of the match.
Louisiana returns to Earl K. Long Gym this weekend to begin a stretch in which six of the season's final eight matches will be played at the facility. The Cajuns welcome Western Kentucky on Friday, Oct. 21 and Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Oct. 22, both matches beginning at 7 p.m.
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