Faith in the Fourth Set

Faith in the Fourth Set

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- All of the high momentum of the last few matches paid off for Belmont Volleyball on Saturday afternoon as it picked up its first victory of the season. The Bruins (1-17, 1-5 OVC) gutted out a 3-1 victory in the Curb Event Center over Eastern Kentucky (3-15, 2-4 OVC).

The Bruins started the first frame with a 6-0 run before the Colonels were able to score a point.  However, EKU answered with five consecutive points. The teams were stalemated 8-8 after back-to-back kills by sophomore Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.). The teams quickly fell into a fast-paced back-and-forth battle through the midpoint of the set until the Bruins expanded their lead to three points, 18-15, forcing the Colonels to burn their first timeout. Eastern Kentucky continued to press and inched to within one, 20-19, before BU called a huddle session. An intense back-and-forth soon began with five ties before the send of the frame where the Bruins pulled ahead, 25-24. EKU was forced to burn its final timeout but Belmont continued to roll to the 28-26 victory.

The back-and-forth battle continued into the second set. Eastern Kentucky put together a 4-0 run to briefly grab the lead, 8-7. Belmont responded with a flurry of points that put it ahead, 14-9. A stunned Colonel bench called a timeout in an attempt to slow the hand handed home team.  However, the Bruins continued to roll and built a six-point advantage, using kills from senior Tori Simmons (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), freshman Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.), and LePage. Ahead 22-17, BU called a huddle session to strategize about the final points of the set.  Eastern Kentucky made a last gasp attempt with a 5-0 run in the waning points and closed the gap to just one point, 23-22, forcing Belmont to call its final timeout of the stanza. EKU misfired with a pair of attack errors to lift the Bruins to their first consecutive set victories for the first time this season with the 25-22 win.

In the third set, Eastern Kentucky came out hot to the tune of a 7-3 lead that saw the Bruins quickly call timeout. The Colonels maintained their early stranglehold on the lead, going up 13-6, before Belmont used its final huddle session of the frame. EKU continued to surge down the stretch and never looked back en route to its 25-15 win.

Belmont grabbed control of the fourth frame early, taking a 6-3 lead. Eastern Kentucky would not go away easy and hustled to remain within striking distance until a pair of vicious kills Floyd helped to lift Belmont to a 14-7 lead. An attack that landed just inside the line by senior Maggie Mullins (Nashville, Tenn.) gave BU a five-point advantage and forced EKU to use a timeout.  After the brief break, the Colonels pushed back late with a run that closed the gap to four points, 20-16, but another soft-touch kill by Mullins was enough to help Belmont back on track in the waning points. Eastern Kentucky threatened again, this time inching to within a mere two points, 22-20, but the Bruins would not be denied. Kills from Nichols and Floyd moved the Bruins to set point before a block by Mullins and LePage sealed the 25-21 win.

A whopping four Bruins reached double digits in kills, led by senior Simmons, who finished with 14. Floyd contributed 13 while LePage had 11 and Mullins notched 10. Sophomore Akia Warrior (Ft. Worth, Texas) notched her first double-double of the season with a match and career-high 44 assists and 12 digs to lead the team. Senior Haley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill.) posted 11 digs in the win. Senior Alexa Nichols (Walton, Ky.) recorded a match-high six block assists, followed by Mullins who tallied five.

Belmont returns to action on Friday, October 12, hosting in-state rival Austin Peay in the Curb Event Center. 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.