Kayla Dowdell hasn’t verbally thanked Arkansas-Pine Bluff head coach Kyetta May for lighting a fire under her.

Kayla Dowdell hasn’t verbally thanked Arkansas-Pine Bluff head coach Kyetta May for lighting a fire under her.


The redshirt junior transfer would rather her game do the talking.


It spoke loud and clear Monday night in H.O. Clemmons Arena as Dowdell posted a joint game-high 11 kills to help lead UAPB to a 3-0 (25-20, 27-25, 25-19) sweep of Southern.


The victory allows the Lady Lions (7-16, 3-1 SWAC) to keep hold of second place in the SWAC Western Division ahead of the third-place Lady Jaguars (8-12, 3-3).


"She’s one I’ve really been tough on her, wanting her to mix up her shots," May said. "She was doing it tonight and being more effective. When she does it, that changes more momentum.


"She’s stepping out of her comfort zone and swinging down the line more. She definitely did that tonight."


Dowdell and her mammoth swings, which consistently brought the night’s biggest cheers from the UAPB faithful, always seemed to come at key times.


In the second set, she had two kills with UAPB facing five-point deficits and had arguably the biggest kill of the night with the set tied at 25-all. Dowdell, of Jonesboro, Georgia, fittingly ended the match with her 11th kill.


It was a clear sign Dowdell had received her coach’s message.


"She kind of put the fire under me," Dowdell said of May. "I needed it, but I’m kind of upset that I needed it. But I took it as a good thing.


"I haven’t really thanked her privately. I just want to show her through my play."


Dowdell’s impressive showing, along with solid performances by Lauren Corby (11 kills) and Ashlie Jones (nine kills, seven digs), proved crucial in helping the Lady Lions tighten their grip on second place.


"The key for us is staying focused on the fact that it is coming down to the wire," May said. "Each conference game from here on out, we have to play as close to perfection as possible.


"Everybody is fighting for something. … We are sitting in second place right now, so we want to go up or stay where we are."


For Southern coach Venessa Jacobs, Monday’s game was a missed opportunity to leapfrog UAPB.


"I felt like we were prepared," she said. "I thought we had a good game plan. I just didn’t feel like we executed to our standard."


Dowdell said she felt like Monday’s game came down to mental, not physical, ability.


"I think mental toughness was the difference," said the Miami Dade College transfer. "Sometimes our heads are our own worst enemy. We’ve got to continue to get better at that with the SWAC tournament coming up soon."