NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Lightning could not strike twice for Belmont Volleyball in its second match at its Bruiser Showcase on Friday. The Bruins (4-2) were bested in its second five set match of the day, falling to first-time opponent Idaho State (3-2), 3-2.
The Bruins exploded to open the first stanza, taking a six-point, 11-5, point lead. However, it would be short lived as the Bengals put together a 10-0 that lifted them to 15-11 advantage. Following a timeout, a kill by senior Brie Lewis (Stillwell, Kan.) knotted the score 16-16 before classmate Arianna Person (Lenexa, Kan.) drilled a kill into the center of the floor to put Belmont ahead for the first time since its early rally. The Bengals would not go away easy, battling back to knot the score, 20-20. ISU kept up the pressure in the waning points and edged BU down the stretch, 26-24.
Slow and steady was the name of the game for set two as the Bruins methodically worked their way through the frame. Belmont built a two-point advantage early and managed to hold on to it through the midpoint of the set. The teams settled into a tough back and forth battle after a 16-16 stalemate. The Bengals were the first to heat up, rolling off five straight points to take a 22-18 lead but Belmont was able to quickly bounce back. Kills by junior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.) and Person kept the fire going down the stretch as BU evened the set total with the 25-23 win.
Set three saw the Bengals jump out to a 3-1 lead before the Bruins came firing back behind back-to-back service aces by Lewis and a trio of kills by Person fueled the Belmont surge, lifting it to a 9-6 lead. BU was only able to expand its lead to at most three points at any time before Idaho State charged back. Finally, Belmont was able to break away behind the serving of senior Emily Richards (Penfield, N.Y.). Kills by graduate student Jessica Vestal (Concord, Calif.) and Nichols helped give Belmont a two set advantage after the 25-20 win.
The teams fell into the same rhythm of trading points to open the fourth set before locking at 10-10. The foes stalemated numerous times, including at 20-20. Crucial kills down the stretch by Vestal and Person would not be enough to prevent Belmont from heading into a fifth set for the second time that day. Idaho State took full advantage of Bruin attack errors to take the fourth frame, 26-24.
Much like the proceeding sets, the teams traded points early to open set five. Belmont was the first to put distance between the first-time opponents using back-to-back kills by Vestal to give the team a 6-3 lead. ISU brined a timeout to regroup and came out swinging, recording six straight points. The Bruins, now trailing, 9-6, called a timeout of their own. Unfortunately, BU could never make up the group in the waning points. Belmont burned a second timeout, down 13-9 but it did not hold back the Bengals won used a kill and a service ace to seal the set and match.
Two Bruins finished the night with double-doubles – Person rang up a match-high 21 kills and 15 digs while Lewis had 14 kills and 19 digs. Vestal also reached double digits in kills, adding 13, while Richards wowed with a match-high 29 digs. Freshman Akia Warrior (Ft. Worth, Texas) notched 34 assists and senior Emma Price (Fort Mill, S.C.) added 17. Lewis also wrapped the night with a whopping five service aces.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday for its last match of the Bruiser Showcase when it takes on in-state rival MTSU. First serve is set for 2 p.m. and can be seen live on the OVC Digital Network. Live stats will also be available. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.