NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Despite a strong start, Belmont Volleyball was unable to topple streaking Lipscomb in an extended match session on Tuesday evening in the Curb Event Center. The Bruins (9-9) were held off down the stretch by the Bisons (9-9) in the annual Battle of the Boulevard, 3-1.
After trading points to open the first frame, Belmont surged to pull away, 13-9, forcing the Bisons to burn a timeout. The teams traded points once again and ended up locked in a series of scoring stalemates. Belmont saw the Bisons cross the 20-point threshold first and add another point on a kill before calling a timeout, trailing 21-19. The brief break in the action proved to be the spark BU needed. Lipscomb's hold on the lead slipped as kills by senior Brie Lewis (Stillwell, Kan.) and junior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.) made it a one-point differential, 24-23. Belmont called its final timeout to strategize and it paid big dividends as a Lewis service ace was sandwiched by kills from Nichols and graduate student Jessica Vestal (Concord, Calif.) that gave the Bruins a 25-24 lead. LU called its final timeout but an attack error handed the set to Belmont, 26-24.
In set two, Lipscomb jumped out to an early lead, fueled by a series of scoring runs, that put it ahead, 17-11. A kill by senior Arianna Person (Lenexa, Kan.) and a pair of Bison attack errors made it a three-point set, forcing LU to call a timeout. A blistering 4-0 run, capped by back-to-back kills by Nichols, moved the Bruins to within one point, 20-19. Unfortunately despite kills from junior Maggie Mullins (Nashville, Tenn.) and Person, Belmont was held off, 25-22.
The Bruins came out of the break sluggish as Lipscomb pulled ahead early, 5-1, to start the third set. Belmont called a timeout to regroup but continued struggling to find an offensive rhythm. The Bisons continued piling on the points throughout the frame, expanding their lead to as many as seven, 18-11, before BU called its first timeout. The Bruins would only be able to narrow the gap to eight points, 21-13, thanks to a Vestal kill. LU capitalized on late attack errors to take the set, 25-15.
Belmont opened the fourth set with a little more life than the previous one, keeping the score tight early. The Bruins gained their first lead since the second stanza, 15-14, following a pair of kills by Lewis.
The score would go on to be locked a total of 11 times through the midpoint as BU worked hard to hold on to its one point advantage. Unfortunately, Belmont fell behind by a pair of points, 19-17, and called timeout. Despite the break in the action, the Bisons extended their run to 6-0, taking advantage of Bruin errors. At the end of the flurry, Lipscomb led 20-17 and did not look back. Late kills by Person were not enough to keep Belmont within striking distance as the Bisons went on to win the set, 25-20.
Person notched her third consecutive double-double with a team-high 15 kills and 13 digs. Nichols added 10 kills in the effort while senior Ellie Ivancich (Naperville, Ill.) recorded a team-high 15 digs. Nichols also finished with a match-high four block assists.
Belmont returns to action on Friday evening in the Curb Event Center. The Bruins host in-state rival UT Martin for an OVC tilt. First serve is set for 6 p.m. Live stats will be available and the match can be seen live on the OVC Digital Network. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.