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Courtesy: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Roadrunners survive scare in Southland Conference Tournament opener

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 11/19/2010
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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HUNTSVILLE — No. 2 seed UTSA survived a match point by seventh-seeded McNeese State and it rallied to win in five sets (13-25, 25-21, 27-25, 19-25, 19-17) on Friday in the first match of this weekend's Southland Conference Tournament.

McNeese State (14-18) led 17-16 in the fifth and final frame, but UTSA (20-11) scored three consecutive points to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2005. The win also was the 400th of head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff's career (144 at UTSA).

"To win in the first round after trailing late shows a lot about this team's character," Neugebauer-Groff said. "You have to give McNeese State a lot of credit for the way they played, but when the challenge was ahead of us, we responded and I'm proud of that."

Senior Kendra Rowland was one of three Roadrunners who recorded double-doubles. She led the team with 18 kills and 22 digs.

"It wasn't a picture-perfect win," Rowland said. "All season, we've had our motto of 'the comeback kids.' We've been in these situations before where we've had to come back late and that's what we had to do today."

Sophomores Kelsey Schwirtlich (54 assists/16 digs) and Andee Josserand (12 kills/13 digs) also netted double-doubles. Meanwhile, sophomore Whitney Walls and senior Briana Mason both recorded double-digit kills, as Walls racked up 16 and Mason posted 11. UTSA also received 18 digs from junior Kelsey Jewasko, this year's Southland Libero of the Year.

Priscilla Massengale paced the Cowgirls with a match-high 21 winners, while Becky Beckelja racked up a double-double with 53 assists and 19 digs. Katie Kennedy collected a match-best 27 digs for McNeese State, which registered 89 as a team.

McNeese State hit at a .406 clip in the opening frame to cruise to a 12-point decision. The Roadrunners responded to win the next two sets and, following intermission, the Cowgirls overcame a five-point UTSA lead to take the fourth by a half dozen points, which set up the thrilling finish.

The Roadrunners held three match points and McNeese State had its own at 17-16 before UTSA's match-winning spurt. After an attack error by the Cowgirls, Rowland and Walls posted back-to-back winners to secure the win.

UTSA will play No. 6 Lamar (13-15) at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Roadrunners swept the Lady Cardinals on Oct. 23 in the only meeting between the two teams this fall.

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