Bruins Fall to Lipscomb 1-3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont fell to Lipscomb in four sets, 3-1, in a non-conference meeting with the Lady Bison Tuesday evening at the Curb Event Center. After starting in a two sets to none hole, the Bruins battled back to take set three, 25-23, before falling in the fourth set, 15-25.
The meeting was the 32nd between the two teams and Belmont now owns a 25-7 record against Lipscomb. The Bruins have lost four straight matches to the Lady Bisons, who went a perfect 20-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference last season.
Belmont got 11 kills each from seniors Kayla Albritton (Gainesville, Fla.) and Tara Blood (Boise, Idaho) to share team-high honors. Freshman Allison McCoy added six kills and led the team with five blocks. Fellow freshman Hannah Miranda led the Bruins with 23 assists and senior Megan Clements paced the team with 13 digs.
Unforced errors have been a problem spot for the team all season and Tuesday night was no exception as Belmont committed 43 errors, including an unusually high number of blocking errors (seven) compared to only 34 errors by the Lady Bisons. Six of the Bruins' seven blocking errors came in the first two sets. As a team, Belmont hit only .106, a season low.
"I don't know that we competed today at the level that we needed to," Head Coach Deane Webb said. "There were some signs (of playing at that level); I think our middles were effective and that was good to see. We got aced several times, but for the most part we were in system most of the time. I just don't think we did enough at the net as far as hitting and then an unbelievable number of block errors. To be in the net seven times is just a pretty unusual number."
The third set showed that the Bruins could be competitive if they played up to their potential. Belmont led most of the third set and battled through several tied scores to take the set. The Bruins recorded 14 kills, committed only four attack errors and had no blocking errors in the set, a performance the coaches would like to have seen earlier in the match.
"I think our hitters did a better job of putting the ball down in the third game," Webb said. "Certainly hitting .294, a number that generally we're pretty content with (was an improvement). Before that we just really, really struggled offensively. Going in to set three we were hitting well into the negative overall and that's pretty unusual. I don't remember the last time that that happened. It was just unfortunate."
The two set hole proved too much for Belmont against a good Lipscomb team. The match provided just one more opportunity for the young Bruin squad to continue to improve and Belmont will look to continue that improvement for the next meeting with the Lady Bisons in November at Lipscomb. That match will count in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings and will be one of the final matches before seeding for the conference tournament. For now, though, the Bruins continue a tough non-conference schedule and prepare for a rematch with Chattanooga, a team that recently defeated Belmont 2-3 in Nashville. The Bruins will be participating in the Country Inn & Suites Challenge in Chattanooga this weekend and the goal will remain the same: to get better one match at a time.
"I think we're improving," Webb said. "I think it's just a matter of we need to find out exactly who our lineup is going to be and get that figured out so that we can start fine tuning. Right now we're just tuning and not fine tuning and we need to get to that point pretty quickly. We're waiting for some players to emerge and make a claim that they're the right kid to have out there. I think there are just many things that defensively were just left on the table tonight."
Belmont is back in action in Chattanooga Friday night with first serve against the Lady Mocs set for 6:30 p.m. The Bruins will face first time opponent James Madison on Saturday morning with an 8 a.m. start time and will finish the tournament against Central Florida. First serve for that match is set for 3:30 p.m. The tournament serves as the first leg of a four-game road swing as Belmont travels to Western Kentucky next week before finally returning home to kick-off conference play against Florida Gulf Coast on Sept. 25.