Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications Staff Reports
The Louisiana Tech volleyball team finished the Arkansas State Invitational with a 1-2 mark after sweeping Little Rock in three sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-21) in First National Bank Arena Saturday to complete the event hosted by Arkansas State.
Tech (1-2) dropped a five-set heartbreaker (25-23, 25-17, 15-25, 17-25, 15-11) to North Alabama in the opener Friday before falling in straight sets (25-22, 25-15, 25-23) to the host Red Wolves later that day.
However, the Bulldogs came out strong Saturday, dominating the Trojans to pick up their first win of the young season.
“I’m so proud of the way our team responded today to get the sweep against Little Rock,” said Tech head coach Amber McCray. “Jailen Hurley led us all weekend, but she was unstoppable offensively in this match with 10 kills on .429 hitting.”
Hurley hit .429 during the win over Little Rock and .314 for the entire weekend. She joined teammate Ashley Taylor on the all-tournament team.
“Luisa (Araujo) was the x-factor for us today,” said McCray. “She dominated the net defensively with six blocks and had several more that forced their attackers into more attack errors. Now I’m excited for a whole week of practice to go refine the areas we need to work on and get ready for UTA.”
Araujo combined with Ashley Taylor Saturday for 10 blocks in the win over Little Rock.
As a team the Bulldogs totaled 32 services aces in the three matches,
LA Tech travels to Arlington, Texas, for the UTA Invitational Friday and Saturday where it will face Presbyterian, Incarnate Word, and UT-Arlington.
With the temperature cracking 100 degrees on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon, Louisiana Tech pitched a 1-0 shutout victory over in-state foe McNeese State at Robert Mack Caruthers Field.
LA Tech (2-1-1) was in control for much of the match, surrendering just six shot attempts in route to its first blanking of an opponent this season.
“We took care of our bodies over the weekend in preparation for the heat,’ said head coach Steve Voltz. “We played it smart and kept possession. We let the ball do a lot of work for us to save our legs. We used the most players that we have all year, rotating in and out. We gave a couple of freshmen that did well. I wish we would have put the game away a little earlier. That is still something that is haunting us because we are creating chances.”
The Bulldogs had a couple of early chances in the six-yard box with shots on goal from Carmen Suarez and Josie Studer, but neither resulted in a goal.
Much of LA Tech’s opportunities came in the second period after both teams went scoreless through the first 45 minutes. The Bulldogs were finally able to break through in the 56th minute when some fancy dribbling by Avery Kyle out wide resulted in a low boomer on goal. The ball was saved by the Cowgirls’ Briana O’Dell, but Lauren Egbuloniu made a charge to the far post, tapping in the deflection.
“This is the Avery we recruited,” said Voltz. “Her freshman year was solid, but then the timing of her ACL was tough. She got it in the spring and did not play all year. And she never got her legs under her this past spring. Now, we can really see her enjoying the game and creating opportunities out wide.”
McNeese (1-3-0) rarely threatened, generating just two shots on goal that were saved by freshman Emma Duguay who made her first collegiate start in net.
LA Tech goes back on the road to face Baylor on Thursday, Aug. 31. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.