MOBILE, Ala. - The ULM Warhawks (4-12, 0-7 Sun Belt) dropped their seventh straight match Friday night, falling in a dramatic 3-2 decision at South Alabama (11-10, 4-3 Sun Belt).
After decisive first and second sets, ULM had to come from behind in both the third and fourth sets to force the match to a fifth set. It was the first time the Warhawks went to a fifth set since Oct. 28, 2011.
Senior Zuzana Markova recorded 19 kills on a career-high 56 attempts in the Warhawk effort, establishing a new season high for the Warhawks (previous: Samantha Morse, 15 at North Texas, Sept. 23). Markova added 16 assists and 11 digs to record her third triple-double of the season. Junior right side hitter Blanca Ocana recorded her first double-double of the season (11 kills, 18 assists). Ocana's 18 assists match a career high.
The Jaguars and Warhawks matched each other point for point at the start of the first set, but at 5-5, South Alabama immediately took control. The Jaguars outscored ULM 20-6 to win 25-11 and take an early 1-0 lead. South Alabama remained in control in the second set and took it 25-14 and a 2-0 lead into the break between sets.
Coming out of the break, ULM started to gain some momentum. Down 21-17, ULM staged a 7-3 rally to tie things at 24, fending off match point at 24-23 South Alabama. The Warhawks would eventually take a 25-24 lead on a block from Maria Garcia and Zuzana Markova. With set point in sight for ULM, the Jaguars quickly tied it at 25. However, ULM would break the tie once again and have another opportunity for set point at 26-25. ULM capitalized this time, and came out on top, 27-25, thanks to a key kill from freshman outside hitter Madison Martin to win their first set since the September 13 match at Grambling State.
The fourth set started with a 3-0 South Alabama rally, though ULM quickly tied things at five. The back-and-forth action continued throughout until South Alabama seemed to take control of the set and the match and led 20-14. However, ULM came back and scored the next seven straight points to take a 21-20 lead. The Warhawks and Jaguars traded blows at the end of the game, reaching three tie scores, including 23-23, before ULM scored the last two points to take the set 25-23 and force a fifth set.
In the final set, the Warhawks and Jaguars continued to trade points. With the teams tied at seven in the race to 15, however, the Jaguars regrouped and outscored ULM 8-4 to take the deciding set 15-11 and the match 3-2.
South Alabama's attack was led by Melissa Waelter's 22 kills and Katariina Kananen's 49 assists. Waelter also recorded a match-high 18 digs to pace the Jaguar defense.
ULM heads to Troy on Saturday to wrap up the road trip. The first serve is at 7 p.m.