MOBILE, Ala. - Southern Utah University volleyball opened its 2013 season with a loss on Friday afternoon, falling to Georgia Southern University 25-22. 25-17 and 25-17. The setback gives SUU an all-time record of 2-3 in season openers since the return of the program in 2009.
The Thunderbirds opened the first set in a hole, falling behind 3-0 before a Kylie Schofield kill put the first points on the board for SUU, 3-1. The Eagles continued to lead, building their largest margin of seven, 14-7, midway through the set, leading to a Southern Utah timeout. SUU scored out of the break on another Schofield kill and later used a four-point run to pull to within four at 16-12. Back-to-back kills late in the set fought off a pair of GSU set points, but a final kill by the Eagles punctuated the set 25-22.
The two teams battled to a 9-9 deadlock in the second set before a 6-1 run by Georgia Southern gave the Eagles a 15-10 advantage. The five-point cushion held throughout most of the final stretch as GSU took the set 25-17.
SUU took its first lead of the match at 5-4 in the third set on a GSU attacking error, but the Eagles came right back with a four-point run to take an 8-4 lead. The margin grew to as much as seven (18-11) later in the set with Georgia Southern taking its first set point 24-16. Taylor Heine prolonged the match on the following play with a kill, but a final service error on the T-Birds ended the match 25-17 in the Eagles' favor.
Schofield led all of Southern Utah's hitters with 12 kills, followed by Mikayla Dunford, Annie Stradling and Heine with six kills apiece. Sariah Pelaez led the defense with 12 digs, followed by Alissa Youart with 11.
SUU will be back in action tomorrow with matches against South Alabama and Tennessee State with game times slated for 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (MT). Live stats are anticipated for both matches online at www.suutbirds.com.