LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Belmont University Volleyball dug deep and aimed highfor its first match of the Kansas Invitational on Friday. The Bruins (5-4) did not back down from the challenge to taking on No. 7 Kansas (8-0) and despite falling 3-0, BU came up big in respect from its opponent.
The Bruins fell behind early, 6-1, in the opening stanza and quickly burned a timeout. After the brief break, the Bruins started to resemble their more comfortable selves with kills coming from graduate student Jessica Vestal (Concord, Calif.) and senior Brie Lewis (Stilwell, Kan.) to start putting points on the board for BU. Back-to-back kills by senior Arianna Person (Lenexa, Kan.) helped close the gap to 11-6. Belmont won a challenge call and used the momentum to keep the game tight down the stretch. The Bruins hustled to make it a two-point set, 18-20, with another kill from Person. However, the Jayhawks were able to rally again, going on to take the frame, 25-18.
BU opened the second frame hot, rolling off three straight points before Kansas made a mark on the scoreboard. The match resumed the frantic pace of the first set and the Jayhawks took advantage of untimely Bruin errors to go on a 7-1 run to pull ahead, 13-6. KU continued to surge and expanded its lead to eight points, 17-9. Person delivered some powerful backcourt kills to help rally her teammates down the stretch and BU put together a 6-0 run, capped by a service ace by Vestal to close the gap to just three points, 21-18. Unfortunately, Belmont was only able to eke out two more points as Kansas narrowly clenched the set, 25-20.
The Bruins caught Kansas early in the third frame, knotting the score 7-7 following a kill by junior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.) and a pair of service aces by Lewis. Belmont went on to force a total of four scoring ties before Kansas used an 8-1 run to build a five point lead, 17-12. The Bruins called timeout after the Jayhawk flurry and would only go on to add a handful of points before burning its final timeout of the match, trailing 24-17. Unfortunately, BU could not overcome the late deficit and fell, 25-18.
Person led the Bruin attack with 11 kills followed by Vestal with seven while senior Emily Richards (Penfield, N.Y.) finished with 11 digs. Freshman Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas) recorded 26 assists. Lewis notched the team's lone solo block of the match.
Belmont returns to action later on Friday, taking on No. 9 Creighton on day one of the Kansas Invitational. Live stats will be available. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.