JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Katrina Houston led three Buccaneers in double-digits with a career high 20 kills as Charleston Southern topped Mississippi Valley State in the opener of the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational hosted by Jacksonville University on Friday afternoon, 25-6, 25-12, 21-25, 25-19.
Houston, who entered the match leading CSU on the season in averaging 2.92 kills per game, placed in 14 kills in the final two sets of the match in pacing the Buccaneers offensive efforts as Charleston Southern hit a season-high .228 from the floor in the match. Erin LaVenice connected on six kills in the opening set to finish with 13 kills and eight blocks on the afternoon, while Meredith Parrott added 10 kills and a career high six service aces in the win.
Cassidy Greer set up the Charleston Southern attack with 36 set assists and completed her second double-double of the season with 10 digs, while Maggie Murphy paced the Bucs' backline with a match-high 12 digs over the four sets.
As a team, Charleston Southern had a season-high 11 blocks at the net paced by LaVenice's eight-block effort, while Houston added four of her own to the team's totals.
Charleston Southern improves to 1-4 overall with the win, while Mississippi Valley State falls to 2-5 on the 2013 season.
Halee Clark led the Devilettes on the afternoon with 10 kills and added 11 digs for MVSU in completing the double-double. Halle Gayten and Andrea Lopez added five kills apiece, while Alexandria Garland led the team with 12 set assists in the loss.
Charleston Southern took advantage of the first set early and used an 8-0 run to close out it on Kayla Klinger's serve as the Buccaneers took the opening frame 25-6 in building the 1-0 lead over the Devilettes.
LaVenice had six kills in the set, including three in a row at one point, sandwiching a pair of Laura Grace Swindler service aces as Charleston Southern built a 17-4 lead in the first set. After MVSU took advantage of two CSU attack errors, the Buccaneers went on an 8-0 run started on a kill by LaVenice and capped by an ace by Klinger as the Bucs used six service aces in the frame in picking up the win.
The second set saw the Buccaneers take advantage early again as Parrott and Taylor Allman combined for a kill and Parrott had back-to-back kills as CSU took the 3-1 lead. MVSU kept the set close at 7-5, but the Bucs broke the set open with an 11-3 run sparked by two more kills by Parrott to go up 18-8 on their way to cruising to the 25-12 set win capped by a pair of blocks by LaVenice and Houston.
MVSU took advantage of a struggling CSU attack out of the break as the Buccaneers hit -.028 from the floor in the frame as the Devilettes picked up their first set win of the match, 25-21.
Charleston Southern closed the gap in the middle of the frame, cutting a four point deficit down to one at 12-11 following back-to-back kills by Houston, but a 5-1 run by MVSU started on a kill by Lopez led to a six point edge as Gayten placed in one of her three kills in the set as the Devilettes built a 20-14 lead. The margin remained the same at 23-17 before the Bucs rallied back with a 4-0 run behind kills by Houston and LaVenice to bring the set back to within 23-21, but Gayten continued her strong play in the frame with a kill to bring set point and closed out the frame with a service ace to put the match at 2-1 in favor of CSU.
In the deciding fourth frame, Charleston Southern jumped out of the gates scoring 11 of the first 14 points with Parrott firing in a pair of aces and Houston with two early kills as CSU built the 11-3 advantage. The Buccaneers continued to press their lead, nearly reaching double-digits at 18-9 following another kill by Houston and the Bucs fought off a late rally as Parrott drove home the final point in the CSU 25-19 win.
Charleston Southern is back in action this evening as the Buccaneers take on the host Dolphins with first serve set for 7 p.m.