NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont Volleyball dug deep and forced an extra set to open Ohio Valley Conference play on Tuesday evening but fell just shy. The Bruins (0-13, 0-1 OVC) were edged on the road at crosstown rival Tennessee State (3-8, 1-0 OVC), 3-1.
The Bruins fell behind early, 8-4, and burned a huddle session but came out hot with a 3-0 run as the answer. Belmont hustled to knot the score 14-14 and battled point for point through the midpoint of the frame. The Tigers attempted to hang tight down the stretch but the Bruins were able to dig in and hold on for their first set victory of the match, 25-22, with kills coming from freshman Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.), sophomores Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.) and Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas).
The Tigers came out hot to start the second stanza, taking an early 7-3 lead before BU rolled to stalemate the score, 9-9. Tennessee State pulled ahead by one, 10-9, and Belmont quickly called a timeout to keep the set score tight. The Bruins worked to hold back the sputtering Tigers, capitalizing on TSU errors. BU called timeout as the Tigers surged to knot the score, 18-18. Neither team was able to get ahead by more than two points until a kill lifted Tennessee State to three point advantage, 24-21. A kill by freshman Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.) combined with another error for TSU forced a timeout to be called. At the pause, the Tigers were ahead by one, 24-23, but a Belmont service error handed their opponent the set, 25-23.
The third set was hotly contested from the opening whistle. Belmont used a 4-0 run to take a 10-8 lead and force Tennessee State to call timeout. TSU returned the favor with its own 4-0 but the teams remained separately by only two points until another run put the home team ahead by three, 15-12. The Bruins called timeout to remain focused and attempt to rally. However, the Tigers did not let up down the stretch. Even with the pause of the final Belmont timeout being called was not enough to slow down the Tigers as they went on to take the frame, 25-18.
The fourth set opened with a 4-0 run by Tennessee State before the Bruins got their feet under them after calling for an early huddle session. Trailing by as many as five, 10-5, BU mounted a huge comeback effort. Belmont inched to within four, 14-10, before the Tigers exploded down the stretch, pulling ahead by as many as seven, 17-10. TSU continued to roll as the end of the frame drew close. The Bruins were only able to add two more points, including one from a service ace by sophomore Akia Warrior (Ft. Worth, Texas), before falling, 25-14.
Floyd led the Bruins with 12 kills, followed by senior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.), who tallied 10. Warrior posted 23 assists while newcomer Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) contributed 20. A trio of Bruins reached double digits in digs led by seniors Tori Simmons (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Haley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill.), who added 12 apiece while freshman Faith Cobaugh (Union, Ky.) finished with 10.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday afternoon with its OVC home opener as it hosts SIUE. First serve is set for 2 p.m. Live stats will be available and the contest can be seen live on the OVC Digital Network. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.