ASU's Sabrina Garcia led the Lady Rams with 22 kills in Tuesday's loss to Benedict.
ALBANY -- Sabrina Garcia and Jillian Anderson stood outside of their Albany State volleyball locker room Tuesday evening in disbelief about what just happened.
"I can't believe we lost that game," said Anderson, a sophomore middle hitter from Athens.
"Yeah, I can't believe that," Garcia chimed in.
In an important SIAC match that was close from the first point to the last, Benedict beat Albany State in five sets, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22, 20-25, 16-14. It was the second straight home loss for the Lady Rams (11-10, 8-5), who had defeated Benedict during the Lady Tigers' homecoming last week.
"We have a team that is coming up and is young," ASU coach Robert Skinner said. "We know we are capable of winning, but you get down to the end of the game, and you make crucial mistakes and not focus. And that's exactly what we did."
Each set could have gone either way, but it was the fifth set that stung the most. The teams only played to 15, but there were nine different times during that final set during which the score was tied.
ASU had the first match point at 14-13 with a golden opportunity when Sharme Ridley was set up with a tailor-made kill opportunity that went just wide. Benedict then won the next point to give itself a match point. During that final point, the teams rallied back and forth before Benedict hit an apparent match-winner, which led to four Lady Rams diving for the ball.
The players ended up in a tangled pile in the corner of the court, but somehow the ball was returned over the net.
"Everybody wanted it, but they weren't thinking. It was good hustle, but we lost focus and started playing safe," said Garcia, a senior outside hitter from Dallas.
A stunned Benedict team returned the ball back to the Lady Rams, who were now in control of the point -- that is until a mis-hit by junior Jennifer Johnson ended the point and the game.
"That last point didn't even matter. We should have won that game three points ago," Anderson said. "I feel like we were making dumb mistakes, little mistakes. We kept playing point-to-point with them instead of running the ball with them and finishing the game out."
A win against Benedict (10-5, 9-3) would have bumped the Lady Rams ahead of the Lady Tigers and into to third place in the SIAC East Division. But instead, ASU remained in fourth place in the division and fell even further behind leader Clark Atlanta and second-place Claflin.
The Lady Rams currently have the sixth-best record out of the 12 SIAC schools, but still have several tough conference matches to play before the SIAC Tournament on Nov. 7-9 that they will host in Albany.
Garcia led the Lady Rams with 22 kills, while Amber Gatlin, Anderson and Ridley had 16, 14 and 13 kills, respectively. ASU's Adrienne Morris had a team-high 16 digs, while Johnson had a match-high 58 assists.