Volleyball Blazes Past Southern Miss, 3-0

Rachel Fairbanks posted the most digs (24) in a three set match by a C-USA player in 2012

Oct. 12, 2012

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- Rachel Fairbanks posted 24 digs in three sets and four players posted eight-plus kills as the UAB volleyball team swept Southern Miss, 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-19) on Friday night at Bartow Arena.

The victory for UAB marked its fourth in a row with the last three wins coming at home to even up its record at 11-11 overall and 4-3 in Conference USA action.  The Blazers will look to continue their winning ways on Sunday at Noon CT against the UCF Knights.

“We haven’t played that well all season.  Offensively we really started to click and defensively I thought we played outstanding,” head coach Kerry Messersmith said.

Leading the defense was libero Rachel Fairbanks who posted 24 digs for a per set average of eight per frame in the win.  The junior from Katy, Texas, recorded five digs in the first frame, an impressive 12 digs in the second and closed out the match with seven in the third set.

In fact, Fairbanks’ dig total marked the most by a C-USA player in three sets in 2012.  Coincidentally, the last league player to record more than 24 digs in three sets was former Blazer Heather Thomas when she posted 28 vs. UTEP back on Nov. 5, 2011.

“Rachel was phenomenal tonight for us,” Messersmith said.  “She is very goal oriented and accomplished what she set out to do as our libero tonight.”

On the other side of the court, Kirsten Gallagher led the Blazer offense with 13 kills on a .500 (13k-3e-20ta) hitting clip.  As a team, UAB registering a hitting percentage of .286, while holding the Southern Miss (6-13, 2-5 C-USA) attack at .157.

“Kirsten is just such a smart player for us and I can’t say enough about her,” Messersmith said.  “It’s great to see a lot of different players making contributions.  We are taking care of the ball better and limiting our unforced errors.  We have a tough match on our hands against UCF on Sunday and we are excited to get back on the court.”

Also reaching double figures was outside hitter Sam Skinner, who put away 11 kills and added nine digs and three block assists.  Adding to the attack was Sam Serley and Ally Slaughter who each posted eight kills a piece.

Running the offense was setter Alison Woods, who recorded her team-best ninth double-double, dishing out 36 assists and totaling 11 digs.  In fact, 10 of her 11 digs came in the third and deciding stanza.

The night didn’t start out promising for the Blazers, falling behind the visiting Golden Eagles 9-4, forcing a UAB timeout.  Following the stoppage of play, the home squad caught fire, using a 8-1 run to take a 12-10 advantage.

UAB and Southern Miss would square up the score three more times, including at 18-all.  From that point on, UAB utilized a 7-1 spurt featuring a pair of kills from Gallagher to claim the set 25-19.

After the score was tied 3-3 in the second set, UAB exploded the rest of the frame leading 24-15.  The visiting Golden Eagles scored three late points, but the lead was to large as USM hit just .122 in the stanza.

The final frame featured four ties and two lead changes but four players rocketed three-or-more kills to lead the Blazers to a three-game sweep of the Golden Eagles.