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Eagles topple Ole Miss, Arkansas State

OXFORD, Miss. – Senior outside hitter Nicole Jeschelnik posted 32 kills on the day to lead the Georgia Southern volleyball team to two victories at the Magnolia Invitational Friday.
The Eagles (5-1) topped tournament host Ole Miss 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 25-13, 25-18) and downed Arkansas State 3-1 (25-15, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15). Georgia Southern has now won 18 of its last 20 matches, dating back to last season.
Jeschelnik collected 12 kills and 11 digs against the Rebels and notched a career-high 20 kills and hit .457 for the match against Arkansas State.
Katie Bange added 11 kills and three blocks in the victory over Ole Miss (3-2), and Jamie DeRatt recorded nine kills and 16 digs. Kym Coley posted nine kills and three blocks, and Crysten Curry had eight kills and a block. Katalin Minnerly registered 44 assists and 13 digs, while Alexandra Beecher finished with 14 digs.
“Our team showed a lot of courage tonight and competed hard,” said Georgia Southern first-year coach Dustin Wood. “We were very aggressive tonight with our serving game and executed our game plan very well. We scored points off of transition at a very high level, and everyone contributed. I am extremely proud of them.”
Marie-Pierre Bakima finished with 13 kills and nine digs to lead Ole Miss, and Ty Laporte finished with 11 kills.
Georgia Southern combined for just five hitting errors in the first two sets they won and held the Rebels to an .025 hitting percentage in the fourth frame.
The Eagles trailed 5-4 in the third set but scored six in a row, capped by a combined block by Minnerly and Coley, to open a 10-5 cushion. The margin grew to as many as 22-11 following a solo block by Coley, and the Eagles took the set 25-13 to open a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Eagles led 17-15 in the fourth set and used a 5-1 run, with kills by Curry and Bange to open a 22-16 lead. The Rebels trimmed the margin to 22-18 but made three consecutive hitting errors to end the match.
The Eagles pushed a one-point lead to 20-16 with a 4-1 run in the first set. DeRatt had two kills, and Beecher added an ace during the spurt. The Rebels got to within three points twice, but a Jeschelnik kill and an ace by Meghan Morillo extended the margin to 23-18. Ole Miss trimmed the lead to 24-22 before Coley put the set away with a kill.
Ole Miss jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second set and never looked back as the Rebels never trailed in the frame. The margin grew to as many as 16-9 before the Eagles ran off five straight points with the help of two Jeschelnik kills. Ole Miss pushed ahead to 20-16, and the Eagles could not get within four points the rest of the way.
Jeschelnik’s 20 kills against Arkansas State came on 35 swings with just four errors. DeRatt posted 11 kills and nine digs, while Bange finished with nine kills and seven blocks.
“Nikki (Jeschelnik) played really well and showed how to be a leader, especially in tonight’s match,” said Wood. “She made the in-game adjustments we asked her to make and helped make everyone around her better with her confidence in herself and her team.”
Coley posted nine kills and four blocks, and Curry registered seven blocks. Minnerly finished with 42 assists and 12 digs, and Beecher posted 16 digs.
Sadie Clark led Arkansas State (0-5) with 15 kills, while Kelsey Sullivan posted 11.
The Eagles finish their stay at the Magnolia Invitational tomorrow morning when they meet Kennesaw State at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern).