ATLANTA, GA. - Katrina Houston and Erin LaVenice combined for 15 kills as Charleston Southern closed out the 2012 Georgia Tech Courtyard Invitational with their best match of the weekend, but paced by double-digit kills by both Kayla Neto and Bre Moreland, Cal State Fullerton took the win 25-17, 25-19, 25-22.
Houston led the way with eight kills for CSU (0-3), as Charleston Southern hit a weekend best .170 from the floor in the contest against the Titans (2-1). LaVenice added seven kills, while Wynter Davis added six kills and four blocks in the loss.
"I think we played some of our best volleyball in the last match," commented Coach Al Givens on the final match of the weekend. "With Wynter (Davis) making the all-tournament team, Katrina playing some of her best matches today and Meredith providing her best collegiate numbers, this definitely gives us something to build off of. We see glimpses of what we can be; now we just need to develop the consistency as we continue to put our system in place."
Charleston Southern rallied from a 9-5 deficit in the first game, tying the set up at nine apiece as the teams tied six times, swapping the lead twice in the first frame. CSU continued their run, going up 12-10 on a CSF attack error, but the Titans rallied back on Moreland's serve, taking a 15-12 lead.
Though CSU challenged throughout the remainder of the set, Cal State Fullerton built a six point advantage at 22-16 before Leah Best and Moreland closed out the 25-17 set victory with a block.
The second set was tightly contested through the first 26 points as the teams were knotted up at 13 apiece before the Titans went on a 7-0 run behind two service aces by Kaylynne Taeatafa to take the 20-13 advantage. Charleston Southern rallied back, cutting the lead to four at 21-17 as Davis and Sydney Tracy combined for a block, but the Buccaneers' rally was short-lived as CSF was able to close out the set behind back-to-back kills by Moreland, going up 2-0 with the 25-19 win.
Cal State Fullerton built their largest lead of the third set at 14-9 following a kill by Lauren Kissell, but Charleston Southern rallied back behind the serve of Maggie Murphy, cutting the deficit down to 17-15. The Buccaneers comeback continued as Michaela Luna recorded a service ace and Kirsten Struksnes tied the match up at 22 apiece with a kill down the line.
However, Moreland ended the CSU attempts to push the match into a fourth set with a pair of kills and a Julie Consani service ace ended the contest in favor of the Titans.
Struksnes and Cassidy Greer set up the CSU offense in the match as the duo recorded 12 assists apiece, while Tracy led the Buccaneers backline with 11 digs. Murphy added nine digs to the defensive efforts, while LaVenice and Meredith Parrott had two blocks apiece to round out the box score.
"I'm pretty confident the level of competition we faced this weekend will help us continue to grow and develop as we get ready for next weekend at home," said Givens following the match. "We still need to work on our blocking and defense, especially taking care of the first ball and getting people on the same page. We're starting to make runs of our own in the matches and offense is not going to be our issue this season. I'm optimistically encouraged from today and saw several really bright spots where players continue to step up and battle for positions."
Charleston Southern returns to the Buccaneer Fieldhouse as CSU prepares for the first of two home tournaments the team will host in the 2012 season. The first tournament will feature Charleston Southern, Canisius, USC Upstate, Mercer and Furman, and will begin on Friday, August 31st.
For more information on CSU Volleyball and all Charleston Southern athletics, visit CSUSports.com, the worldwide home of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.