COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont Volleyball used runs early and often to assist in securing a 3-1 victory on the road Friday evening. Despite being pushed to a fourth set, the Bruins (9-7, 4-1 OVC) held off Tennessee Tech (3-14, 1-4 OVC), 3-1, to improve to 4-1 in conference play.
BU had an uncharacteristically slow start before picking up back-to-back points to make it a 4-3 set early. Suddenly, the Bruins exploded behind a 5-0 run, lifting by a pair of service aces by graduate student Jessica Vestal (Concord, Calif.) and kills by senior Arianna Person (Lenexa, Kan.) and junior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.) to go ahead, 10-6. The Golden Eagles dug in and used a 4-0 rally of their own to close the gap to four points again, 14-10. Propelled by a 7-1 run, the Bruins were the first to reach 20 points. Even with both timeouts used, TTU could not find a way to contain the Bruins in any aspect of the game. A service ace by senior Ellie Ivancich (Naperville, Ill.) matched with a pair kills by senior Brie Lewis (Stillwell, Kan.) late to help hand BU the 25-15 win.
Belmont maintained its scoring frenzy into the second stanza, taking an early lead following kills by freshman Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.) and Lewis. BU was able to hold a six-point advantage through the midpoint of the frame, going up 13-7. Tennessee Tech called timeout but the Bruins had begun the surge that would lift them to the set win. Belmont saw strong attacks on the front line from LePage, Lewis, and Vestal to keep the set win in sight. Golden Eagle attack errors sandwiched a pair of service aces by freshman Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas) as BU closed the set with a 7-0 run to win 25-15.
The Golden Eagles attempted to salvage the damage done in the first two sets with an aggressive start in the third set but the Bruins quickly fired back. The teams remained separated by one point through the midpoint of the set before TTU used a 5-0 run to pull ahead, forcing the Bruin bench to burn its first timeout of the match. BU rallied and knotted the set, 19-19, forcing Tennessee Tech to call timeout. The set score would be tied four more times before the Golden Eagles grabbed the lead what would become for good as they went on to take the third set, 25-22.
The teams traded points immediately to open the fourth set, in an intense back and forth. Neither team allowed a point to be scored unanswered. BU put together a 4-0 run to pull ahead, 12-9, and the Golden Eagles immediately called timeout. The Bruins continued to roll expanding the run to 7-1 to go up, 14-9. Belmont went on to expand its lead to six points, 18-12 behind a 4-0 run, forcing Tennessee Tech to call its final timeout of the stanza. Kills by Nichols and Person lifted Belmont over the 20-point plateau and the team cruised down the stretch, taking the final frame, 25-16.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday afternoon, concluding its road trip with a stop at Jacksonville State. Match time is set for 2 p.m. Live stats will be available.