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Though hard fought, Louisiana falls short in 2019 opening volleyball games

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Freshman Celeste Darling (5) spikes the ball as the Ragin' Cajuns take on the UTEP Miners on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

Contrary to preseason play, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns volleyball team had a challenging start in their first official matches of the season. Louisiana competed in the DoubleTree Classic Tournament held in Lafayette over the weekend, playing three matches.

All three matches saw Louisiana lose in a 0-3 sweep, despite the scores being close.

The Cajuns' first match was against Incarnate World, and the first set seemed the most promising for Louisiana.

They were winning 20-15, but lost the momentum before following through. This set the tone for Incarnate World for the rest of the match.

With the drive from the first set win, Incarnate World could not be stopped by the Ragin’ Cajuns. All three sets in the match were lost 23-25.

Senior middle blocker Dree’Ana Abram and junior outside hitter Hali Wisnoskie were the only Louisiana players to have double-digit kills in the match.

Overall, the team led 39-38 in kills over Incarnate World, but it was not enough to secure the win when they also had 20 errors and only five blocks.

On the defensive end, sophomore setter and first-time libero Milayne Danna scooped 16 digs. Junior setter Avery Breaux also had double-digit digs, plus 30 assists, giving her a double-double.

A similar path occurred in the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) match. UTEP won the first set of the night 25-20 and kept the same drive to win the other two sets 21-25 and 20-25.

Freshman outside and right side hitter, Celeste Darling, had a team-high amount of kills with 10. However, UTEP still had six more kills than Louisiana, as well as more blocks and aces and fewer errors.

Louisiana had a low overall hitting percentage combined for the day at .112. Miscues, few blocks and a shaky offense also contributed to the loss.

In the Tulane match, the Ragin’ Cajuns once again were unable to reach a win. They lost their sets 18-25, 18-25 and 21-25.

Unlike the previous matches, Louisiana was in the lead for the majority of the sets. Louisiana kept up offensively, but still had errors that led to Tulane’s rally from behind win.

Despite the loss, Louisiana was still able to hold Tulane to their lowest hitting percentage of the weekend. Tulane’s percentage was .215 Saturday versus the .316 of the previous day. Louisiana’s hitting percentage was still low at .070.

Sophomore right-side hitter Desiree Johnson had a team-best with nine kills, while junior defensive specialist Hannah Ramirez earned a match-high 19 digs, wearing the libero jersey.

Up next, Louisiana has a series of home matches. As part of the Sawyer Camillo Memorial Classic Tournament, they take on McNeese on Friday Sep. 6 at 1:30 p.m., followed by a match against Eastern Michigan at 6:30 p.m and a match Saturday at 12:30 p.m. versus Florida A&M.

Last year Louisiana started their home season playing four matches in the Sawyer Camillo Memorial Classic Tournament, winning three out of the four matches.

Louisiana will then compete in their first home single match on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. versus Southern Mississippi.

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