Kennesaw, Ga. – Morgan Thomas finished with a team-high 14 kills and USC Upstate took the first set of the day, but Kennesaw State won three-straight sets to take stave off the Spartans' upset bid with a 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon. The Owls won by scores of 24-26, 25-22, 25-18 and 25-20.
Upstate fell to 10-17 overall and 1-8 in the A-Sun with the loss. The Spartans will end the season Wednesday night at 7:00 at East Tennessee State. Kennesaw State improved to 16-9 overall and 8-1 in the A-Sun. The Owls remain in sole possession of second place in the conference.
Three Upstate players finished with double figure kill totals. In addition to Thomas' (Plantation, Fla.) 14 kills, Mindy Quimby (Keenesburg, Colo.) totaled 13 kills, while freshman Cori Harris (Champaign, Ill.) tallied a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs.
Upstate played tough and took the first set by two points, 26-24. The Spartans used a 4-0 run early in the game to open a 6-2 lead. They pushed the lead to seven points, the last at 18-11, before Kennesaw State made a move to get back in the frame. The Owls used an 8-2 run to get within 20-19 and tied the set at 22-22. They actually used a 5-0 run to turn a 22-19 deficit into a 24-22 lead. Upstate, though, would not give up and stormed back with four-straight points to snatch the win in the set.
Upstate looked like it might put Kennesaw State in a 2-0 hole after a solid start in the second set. The Spartans built a five-point lead, 14-9, and looked in control of the frame. Kennesaw, though, rattled off seven consecutive points to open a 16-14 lead and take momentum away from the Spartans. Holding a narrow 20-19 lead, the Owls scored three-straight points to open a 23-19 lead and went on for the three-point win to even the match at 1-1.
Kennesaw State gained control of the third set early on and held off Upstate to take a seven-point victory in the frame. The Owls used an 8-1 run to open a 12-4 lead. Upstate managed to cut the lead to five on five different occasions, but KSU's lead was too large for the Spartans to overcome as the Owls took the 25-18 win.
Upstate looked to send the match to a deciding fifth set with a win in the fourth frame. Kennesaw State, though, wanted to end things in four. The Owls scored the final six points of the set to take the five-point win, 25-20.
Upstate scored seven of the first eight points in the set to open a 7-1 lead. Kennesaw State battled back to get within one, 11-10, but Upstate scored two-straight points to stretch its lead to three points. The Owls closed within one on three occasions before finally breaking through to tie the set at 17-17. Upstate managed a 20-19 lead, but Kennesaw broke through with six consecutive points to not only take the lead, but win the set and secure the match.
Kennesaw State finished the match hitting .301, while Upstate hit at a .197 clip. The Owls finished with nine aces on the afternoon, while Upstate tallied three. Emily Sanders (Sullivan, Ill.) led Upstate with 43 assists, while Thomas added a strong six total blocks on the day.
Sabrita Gulley led the Kennesaw State attack with 22 kills. She also tallied five blocks. Alyssa Lang added 14 kills and nine digs, while Sara Metroka added 54 assists.