ARLINGTON, Texas -- Despite the final score, this was one of the closest matches for Belmont Volleyball to date. In their second contest of the UTA Maverick Invitational, the Bruins (0-11) were held off, 3-0, by first-time opponent Sam Houston State (6-4) on Friday afternoon.
It was a fast and furious set to open the matchup between the first time opponents. The Bruins used a 6-0 run to go up, 10-6, and forced SHSU to call timeout. Suddenly, the Bearkats exploded to grab control of the lead, taking a 16-13 advantage. BU was down but not out and rallied to knot the score 17-17. Sam Houston State was the first to cross the 20-point threshold and built a 22-19 lead before a kill by senior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.) gave Belmont its 20th point of the stanza. The Bruins battled to make it a one-point set before a call challenge altered the momentum and helped SHSU take the waning points to win, 25-21.
In the second stanza, the teams traded points often and early before the Bearkats grabbed an 11-8 lead. The Bruins battled back and kept the point differential narrow through the midpoint of the frame. Belmont quickly called for a huddle session after falling behind 15-10, thanks to a SHSU flurry. Sam Houston State did not let up as the set wore on, building its point differential to seven, 18-11, pushing the Bruins to call their final timeout of the stanza. Even with kills from freshman Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.), sophomore Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas) and senior Maggie Mullins (Nashville, Tenn.), Belmont was unable to close the gap and fell, 25-17.
The Bruins had a slow start to the third set, falling behind early, 3-0, but were able to rebound quickly thanks to a succession of kills from senior Tori Simmons (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Mullins and sophomore Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.). BU hustled to grab the lead, thanks to back-to-back service aces by Van Poppel that put the team on top. Belmont eventually pulled ahead, 18-16, and this time it was Sam Houston State's turn to burn a timeout. The Bearkats were able to rally after the break and knot the score, 19-19. BU called a cautious timeout as SHSU grabbed a slim, 21-19, lead. After the brief break, the Bruins seemed to have made it a one-point set, 23-22, but a call was overturned to give the point to the Bearkats. That was all the opportunity SHSHU needed in the final points as it was able to snatch the set away, 25-21.
Belmont returns to action on the final day of the Maverick Invitational facing off against host-UT Arlington on Saturday afternoon. Match time is set for 1:30 p.m. Live stats and video will be available for the contest. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.