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Trojans drop five-setter to South Alabama

In a match that was labeled “all or nothing” for both teams Friday night, the Trojans fell just short against South Alabama 3-2 at Trojan Arena in Sun Belt Conference action Friday night.

Troy (13-17, 4-11 Sun Belt) was led by Meghan Gilroy with 19 kills and Jean McCarthy with 10 kills in the 22-25, 25-20, 25-18, 18-25, 14-16 loss. Kerry Heinz and Aubre Smith ended the match with nine kills each in the loss, while Megan Henderson recorded 42 assists and 12 digs. Before leaving the match late, Emily Strader led the Trojans with 13 digs.

The Trojans will need some help to make the postseason, remaining a game behind Florida Atlantic and South Alabama for the eighth and final playoff spot. Florida Atlantic fell to Western Kentucky University in straight sets Friday night, so the Trojans must win their final two matches of the season on the road and get some help to qualify for the postseason.

After a timeout and a rousing rendition of “The Final Countdown,” late in the final set the Homecoming crowd came to their feet and Gilroy responded for the Trojans with a monsterous kill down the middle for a 13-9 Troy lead. South Alabama (11-12, 5-10) stayed in the match with a kill, trimming the lead to 13-10. A kill from the Lady Jags’ Hristina Markova trimmed the lead to 13-11, before a rally for the ages gave the Trojans a 14-11 lead and match point. Henderson was able to get the point for Troy after chasing down a loose ball. After that point, South Alabama trimmed the lead to 14-13, fighting off two match points and forcing a timeout by Troy. After the timeout, South Alabama’s Brittany Blackwelder stepped to the service line with the crowd at its feet. Unfortunately for Troy, South Alabama was able to tie the match off a block attempt by Troy at 14-all.

A service ace by Blackwelder gave South Alabama match point at 15-14 before Markova was able give South Alabama a 16-14 victory in the fifth and final set.

But before the final heroics, the two teams battled throughout the first four sets of the match with each playing for the postseason dreams.

Prior to the match, the Trojans honored their five seniors playing their final home match of their careers. Molly Eubank, Jean McCarthy, Aubre Smith, Meghan Washlow and Jennifer White played their final home match at Trojan Arena Friday night; leaving behind them a legacy of rewriting the history books at the university and guiding the Trojans into the Sun Belt Conference.

Troy returns to action next weekend against Middle Tennessee on Friday night and Western Kentucky University on Saturday night – both matches on the road.