EAST LANSING, Mich. – Tirah Le’au led the University of Georgia volleyball team with 19 kills, as it defeated the Albany Great Danes 3-1(25-14, 21-25, 26-24, 25-19) in the Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational, hosted by Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. With the win, Georgia improves to 6-1 on the season, while Albany drops to 2-5 on the year.
“We did not play out best volleyball tonight, but I have to give credit to Albany, who put a lot of pressure on us,” head coach Lizzy Stemke said. “We battled for the win, but I saw a lot of things that we need to work on. This match exposed some things that we need focus on during tomorrow’s matches. I feel good that we were able to battle for the win, but we have to continue to improve each and every point as we go through the rest of the tournament.”
Le’au led all players with 19 kills, one shy of her career best, while hitting at a .484 clip. Three other Bulldogs finished with double-digit kills, including Lauren Teknipp and Chloe Buckendahl, who each finished with a season-best12 kills. Jasmine Eatmon added a season-high 10 kills in the win. Maggie Baumert recorded a season-best 33 assists to pace the Georgia offense.
Defensively, Elena Perri led the team with six total blocks, including one solo stop, with Briana Bahr adding three blocks. Buckendahl earned her second double-double performance of the season, finishing tied for a team-high 17 digs. Allison Summers also posted 17 digs.
The teams tied five times in set one before a Le’au kill and an Albany attack error put Georgia ahead 7-5. An Albany kill cut the lead to one at 10-9, before a Buckendahl kill sparked a seven-point run, which included three-straight kills by Teknipp that put the Bulldogs up 17-9. Georgia went on to take the first set 25-14 on a Buckendahl kill.
After dropping the second set 25-21, Georgia took the third set 26-24 to bring the match score to 2-1. The Bulldogs rallied from a 7-3 deficit to make it a one-point set at 13-12. Georgia took advantage of an Albany attack error to take its fits lead of the set at 17-16. Albany tied the set at 19, but a pair of kills by Le’au and Stacey Smith allowed the Bulldogs to take a 21-19 lead. Albany retook a two-point lead at 24-22, before a kill by Kaylee Kehoe sparked a game-clinching, four-point run that sealed set three 26-24.
Georgia used the momentum from set three to race out to an 8-1 lead in the fourth and final set. The Great Danes scored four-straight points to cut the lead to two at 13-11 and forced a Georgia timeout. The Bulldogs came out of the break and scored five-straight points to take an 18-11 lead. Albany brought the set within five at 20-15, but a kill by Buckendahl sealed the fourth and final set 25-19 and allowed the Bulldogs to take the 3-1 win.
Georgia gets back in action tomorrow at 10 a.m., when it takes on IPFW in the Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational. The Bulldogs will take on host-school Michigan State tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.