NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont sent its five seniors out in grand style with a straight set victory over North Florida Saturday afternoon in the Curb Event Center. The Bruins pushed their win streak to three games and moved to 5-2 in conference play. In spite of the emotions of senior day, Belmont put together one of its most complete and explosive games of the season, and ended the home schedule with a winning record and improved to 11-13 on the season.
"At times, senior days can be challenging emotionally because you're saying goodbye to a crowd, saying goodbye to a court that you've spent a great deal of time on the past four years," Head Coach Deane Webb said. "Today we honored our group. They enjoyed themselves, but they also focused on the task at hand. They worked hard and played well today. They may have put together one of the most complete games we've had all year offensively and defensively. Really, this is the way a senior day should be."
All five seniors contributed in the victory, starting together for the first time this season. Belmont was led by senior Kayla Albritton (Gainesville, Fla.) who finished her home career in memorable fashion, racking up 14 kills and a .480 hitting percentage. As a team, the Bruins hit .449, their best performance all season. Junior Maggie Johnson (Naperville, Ill.) added nine kills and freshman Hannah Miranda led the team with 37 assists and three aces.
"It was just a great, balanced performance," Webb said. "I'm looking across the hitting percentages, and when your lowest attackers for the day attack .420, that's a pretty outstanding day. I was very impressed with their focused, the ability of Hannah to distribute the ball and get people in the right place and give them an opportunity to score. North Florida is a team that we've played some close games with. It went five (sets) at their place last year with similar personnel. I thought we were very focused today. It's very good to see that this time of year, very good to be on an upswing as we near the last few games of the regular season."
In addition to the offensive effort by the Bruins, Belmont also turned a second consecutive defensive outing, limiting North Florida to only a .091 hitting percentage. Senior libero Megan Clements (Indianapolis, Ind.), the school's all-time leader in digs, added to her total with a team-high 14 digs.
"Again, a great, great performance," Webb said. "She (Clements) dug almost five ball per game, was steady in serve receive. Just steady, that's a word that we can use to describe Megan in many matches is steady. She provides what she needs to for our team to be successful and she did that again today."
The Bruins head on the road for the month of November, starting with a weekend road trip to Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast next weekend before returning to Nashville for a mid-week game against Lipscomb in the final match of the regular season. Belmont will then head back to Florida for the Atlantic Sun tournament hosted in Fort Myers by Florida Gulf Coast.
"We only look at it as really there's just one weekend on the road," Webb said. "We go to Florida next weekend and after that it's Lipscomb, which is on the road, but it's only two miles from here, so we don't really consider that much of a road game necessarily. After that it's postseason and obviously you expect that to be on the road. We look at that as a neutral place where both teams are not from that gym. We're excited. We're excited just to be coming together at this time, excited for our seniors to lead this group, to lead this team today and to continue leading our group as we prepare for the postseason."
First serve next Friday at Stetson is 5 p.m. CDT, while Saturday's match against Florida Gulf Coast is set to begin at 6 p.m. CDT.