Home Local Sports Aces fight to the end in loss to Murray State

Aces fight to the end in loss to Murray State

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Evansville begins conference play with its fifth match to go into an extended set

MURRAY, Ky. — The University of Evansville volleyball team opened Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play on the road with a hard-fought loss to the Murray State Racers.

The Purple Aces may have lost in straight sets, but it was a fight to the finish, not going down easy in the third set. Giulia Cardona had a match-high 26 kills to lead Evansville in their first conference game of the season. Melanie Feliciano served up three aces in the loss while adding five kills, the second-highest on the team. Ainoha Cruiz dove for a match-high 17 digs and three assists to keep UE in the match.

Game 1 – Murray State 25, UE 18
The match began with a quick back-and-forth pace as the teams traded points. After five points tied, Murray State pulled away with a four-point run. The Aces added a point to end the run but wouldn’t put together a run of their own until midway through the game getting back-to-back points. Evansville’s longest run of the match came out of their final timeout, putting together three points to make it 19-16 and forcing a Racer timeout. But two short runs for Murray State ended the set at 25-18.

Game 2 – Murray State 25, UE 21
It was a familiar beginning to the second set as the teams went back and forth for the first four points. The Racers had an early run, going up 5-2 but the Aces continued to stay within striking distance. Evansville continued to keep Murray from making any long runs with a point, breaking the momentum regularly. But Murray State made a three-point run, going up 17-10 and making UE call a timeout. But out of the timeout, the Aces put together three straight points. A challenge by the Racers stalled Evansville’s momentum as Murray went up 20-14, then taking it up to 22-15. The Aces stayed alive with a four-point run, but Murray State closed out the set with back-to-back points to go up by two.

Game 3 – Murray State 31, UE 29
It was all Evansville to begin the third set as the Aces put up a blistering five straight points highlighted by a service ace for Feliciano. The Racers responded with small two-point runs, but UE stayed ahead by getting points in between the runs. Murray State tied the game up and took the lead on a four-point run. The run was broken by an attack error and was followed up by two more errors for the Racers.

The Aces got the set back to a tie on a service ace from Cardona, making it 15-all, continuing their run up to six points at 18-16. Murray responded with a two-point run, but UE kept all the momentum putting together another big four-point run to make it 22-17. The run included back-to-back kills for Cardona, her 21st and 22nd of the match. The Racers got within two before Evansville pulled away again, getting to set point. But Murray was able to tie the game at 24, forcing a tiebreak to decide the set.

It was a back-and-forth battle, as neither team was able to come up with the three straight points needed to win the set. The Aces hit set point two times on an attack error forced by Cruz and a kill from Cardona. But the Racers put together three points on two errors and a kill to end the marathon set and take the match in three.

Evansville will remain on the road for its next match on Saturday night. UE heads down to Nashville to take on the Belmont Bruins at 5 p.m.

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