FOLEY, Ala. — Old Dominion looked to wrap up the comeback with a 15-14 lead in the fifth set, but No. 6 Arkansas State picked up three straight points to end the Monarchs’ 2022 season with a 3-2 second-set final on Thursday finish round of Sun Belt Conference Championship.
“We never gave up. We made some plays in some places and deserved a chance to win the game,” said the head coach Fred Chao.
State of Arkansas 3, ODU 2
The Monarchs (12-16, 7-7 Sun Belt) had four players who scored in double figures, led by Mya Conway with 23 kills. Bailey Burgess followed with 12 kills, Hailey Duncan was next at 11, and Ashley Peroe counted 10 along with 15 digs for a double-double. Teresa Atilano finished the match with 39 assists, Ashlyn Belcher had 12 assists and Peroe served a pair of aces. Anna Burkhardt led both teams with 24 digs. On the net, ODU reached its high of the season at 14 blocks. Duncan led by seven (three solos), Burgess by six and Peroe by five.
As a team, the Monarchs averaged .199 while the Red Wolves (9-21, 2-14 Sun Belt) averaged .188. ODU accumulated more points (83.0-80.0) and held the advantage in blocks (14-8). The match included a total of 36 draws and 22 lead changes.
All five sets were tight from start to finish. In the opening set, Atilano Peroe assisted in a kill as ODU trailed a point at 18-17. Arkansas State then traveled four points in a row before Duncan pocketed a ball to open a 3-0 reaction. The Red Wolves then won three of the next four rallies to earn a 25-21 decision.
With set two tied at 7-7, ODU assembled a 6-0 run highlighted by two Burgess kills. Arkansas State lost the Monarch lead and eventually caught up 23-23. Later, Conway would get back-to-back kills before the Red Wolves made an attack error. The 28-26 record tied the game at one set apiece.
ODU was 16:11 behind in the third set. The Monarchs fought to within a point 16-15, again 17-16 and a third time 21-20. However, her opponent held her off 25-21, leading the match 2-1 overall.
Midway through the fourth set, the score was 15-15, with kills from Peroe and Conway helping to build an 18-15 advantage. The two teams then traded points from there and the Monarchs forced a fifth set for a 25-23 aggregate record.
An early 5-0 run helped ODU take a 6-2 lead early in the final set. Unfortunately, the Red Wolves responded with their own 5-0 push. At 14-11 match point, Conway pulled off three straight kills before Burgess fended off a block Tessa Mati returned control to the monarchs, 15-14. A few points later, with the Monarchs leading 16-15, Arkansas State followed up an ODU serve error with an ace. The Red Wolves then pulled off the crucial kill to end the game 18-16.
Thursday marked ODU’s first appearance at a conference tournament in its three years as a program.