Volleyball wins first round of GSC tournament

Junior hitter Lexie Bradley and sophomore setter Jayden Davila-McClary (20) celebrate a big play against Valdosta State in the opening round of the 2016 Gulf South Conference tournament Nov. 15 at Flowers Hall. The Lions swept the Blazers and never allowed Valdosta State to score more than 16 points in a set.

The North Alabama volleyball team got off to a hot start in postseason play Tuesday night with a 3-0 win over Valdosta State in the Gulf South Conference tournament’s first round.

The Lions (27-5, 17-4 GSC) claimed the right to host the Blazers (13-17, 9-11 GSC) after earning the tournament No. 3 seed behind No. 2 Shorter and No. 1 West Florida.

UNA and Valdosta State met in the GSC tournament for the fifth year in a row, and now the Lions hold a 4-1 series lead in those games. Lions head coach Stephanie Radecki said it was exciting to get a big win at home in postseason play.

“I thought it was fun,” Radecki said. “Our girls executed really well. Valdosta has a lot of weapons, and when they’re in system, they’re scary. Our girls handled that well, and I was really happy with the way they played.”

First team All-GSC hitters Lexie Bradley and Natasha Fomina led the offensive assault for the Lions with 14 and 12 kills respectively. Fomina, who was also GSC Player of the Year, added seven digs for the night.

Junior libero Ashtyn Kapovich proved to be a spoiler for Valdosta State’s offense. Kapovich led UNA with 22 of the 58 digs the team had.

“I think it was one the better games I had,” Kapovich said. “It was a big game for not only us, but Valdosta as well. I wanted to make sure nothing hit the floor and that we could get everything up to make our hitters swing away.”

UNA advances to the next round to face Shorter in a rubber match. The game will be on the campus of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida, Nov. 19 at 3:30 p.m. CST.