FOLEY, Ala. – Sophie Davis recorded a career-high 23 kills and finished with six blocks as James Madison volleyball advanced to the Sun Belt Championship match for the second consecutive season with a five-set victory over Texas State Saturday evening at the Foley Sports Tourism Center.
The Dukes fell behind 9-6 in the fifth set before scoring nine of the final 10 points to secure the victory. With the five-set win (21-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 15-10), JMU (21-8) will take on Coastal Carolina tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. CT) for the title. Texas State dropped to 20-9 with the loss and will await its NCAA tournament fate.
Outside hitter Miëtte Veldman finished with 20 kills and 11 digs, while Brenya Reid added 13 kills of her own for a Dukes offense that hit a combined .223.
Jaydyn Clemmer led a stellar JMU defense, as the junior libero registered a career-high 35 digs out of the back row. Julia McNeley chipped in with 18 digs of her own, as the Dukes held Texas State to a .203 hitting percentage.
Samantha Wunsch (20) and KJ Johnson paced the Bobcats’ offense, while Alyssa Ortega finished with 33 digs out of the back row.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Set 1: Texas State 25-21
- A 4-0 run sparked by stellar defense and two kills from Veldman gave the Dukes a 7-5 edge.
- JMU continued to build its lead with defense, as Clemmer picked up eight digs through the first media timeout which saw the Dukes leading 15-11.
- James Madison extended its advantage to 16-11 before Texas State scored five of six, bringing the Bobcats to within one (17-16). Their momentum continued, taking a 19-18 lead on a block from KJ Johnson.
- Sophie Childs pushed the Texas State advantage to three (23-20), and the Bobcats shut the door on JMU in the first with kills from Samantha Wunsch and Jade Defraeye.
Set 2: JMU 25-17
- Texas State jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the Dukes responded with a 5-1 run to take a 6-5 edge on a dump set from Rebecca Watkins.
- The teams traded points to a 14-14 deadlock before five straight points opened up an 18-14 advantage for the Dukes.
- Davis picked up a service ace to extend the lead to eight (23-15), and Veldman tied the match at 1-1 on back-to-back kills.
Set 3: Texas State 25-18
- The Bobcats jumped ahead 6-1, aided by two service aces from Alyssa Ortega.
- The Dukes used a 5-0 spurt to pull back even at 9-9 on a Texas State ball handling error.
- JMU used two solo blocks – one from Alex Kwasnik and one from Veldman – to edge ahead 16-15 at the media timeout.
- Texas State closed the set on a 10-2 run, taking a 2-1 sets lead.
Set 4: JMU 25-22
- Another solo block from Kwasnik gave the Dukes a quick 7-3 advantage in the fourth.
- Texas State rattled off seven of eight for a 10-8 edge on a kill from Jade Defraeye.
- In a back-and-forth battle, JMU forced a Bobcats’ timeout on consecutive kills from Annie Smith and Davis.
- Davis followed with a kill and assisted on a block, giving the Dukes a 22-20 lead, and recorded JMU’s last three kills of the match to force a fifth set.
Set 5: JMU 15-10
- Texas State gained a 5-2 advantage on a kill from Johnson.
- The Bobcats led by as many as four (8-4), but a kill from Veldman sparked a fierce JMU rally.
- A block assist from Davis and Reid capped off a 6-2 run for the Dukes, evening the match at 10-10.
- After a Bobcats timeout. JMU rattled off five straight to close out the match and advance to the championship.
- Watkins’ 36 assists led the Dukes and were her most since she recorded 37 against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 21.
- JMU improved to 5-0 in the Sun Belt tournament and won consecutive five-set matches for the first time this season.
JMU will take on Coastal Carolina tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. CT) for the Sun Belt Championship. The match will stream on ESPN+.
First appeared on jmusports.com