NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After playing in its second consecutive five set match, luck for the late season comeback team, Belmont University Volleyball, appeared to come up just short on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins (5-21, 5-9 OVC) were held off late by Tennesse Tech (11-17, 5-9 OVC), 3-2, in the Curb Event Center.
The beginning of the opening set was all Belmont as the Bruins quickly took a stunning 12-4 lead, courtesy of kills by freshman Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.) and senior Maggie Mullins (Nashville, Tenn.) and numerous TTU errors. Suddenly, the Golden Eagles exploded for a 6-1 run that knotted the score, 16-16. The Bruins were able to use a kill by Mullins to narrowly regain the lead. Tennessee Tech surged down the stretch to move within striking distance of one point, 23-22, but freshman Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.) drove a kill into the back court put the Bruins at set point before a TTU error lifted BU to the 25-22 win.
The second frame was tight from the opening whistle before Tennessee Tech grabbed a slim 13-10 lead. All told, TTU used a 9-1 run to take an 18-11 lead and forced the Bruins to call for a timeout in the midst. Finally, a kill by Ball halted the opponent's scoring flurry. Additional kills by Mullins and freshman Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) narrowed the scoring differential to just four points, 19-15. However, Tennessee Tech pushed ahead and used a late run to take the set, 25-19.
The third stanza was an intense back and forth for the start, with neither team willing to give its opponent more than two points of breathing room before the other came charging back. Tennessee Tech made the move to pull away first, using a 3-0 run to take a 12-8 lead. The point flurry saw the Bruins call for a huddle session to strategize. Belmont began a slow but steady attack and pulled to within one, 14-13, behind back-to-back kills by sophomore Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.). With their lead rapidly disintegrating, the Golden Eagles called for a timeout to regroup and look to put a halt the Bruins who had put together three unanswered points. TTU was able to emerge from the brief break and remain within striking distance of Belmont down the stretch, including forcing a stalemate. Propelled by a 5-0 scoring run, Belmont surged late and regained the lead. BU used a pair of TTU attack errors to take the frame, 26-24.
Another intense back-and-forth battle marked the top of the fourth set before Tennessee Tech rolled off six straight points to take a 7-4 lead. Belmont quickly called for a huddle session as the Golden Eagles extended their roll to 8-1 before Floyd buried a kill deep in the back court in hopes of getting the Bruins back on track. BU continued to chip away at the lead and used back-to-back kills by LePage and one from Floyd to move within one, 17-16. TTU called for a timeout and hoped that would cool down the Bruins but a kill by Ball knotted the score, 18-18. Ball and sophomore Huntir Bass (Mobile, Ala.) followed with combined for a block assist to briefly give Belmont the lead before the score was tied, this time at 22. BU had victory in its sights after a service ace by Mullins but the Golden Eagles went on to outscore the home team down the stretch and take the frame, 27-25.
The teams traded points to open the final set, battling through six score stalemates before Belmont made a move behind kills from Ball. Tennessee Tech was able to pull ahead by two, 9-7, and BU quickly called for a huddle session to buckle down. A hard-hit kill from Ball looked to spark the Bruins but the Golden Eagles kept pushing late and used a 3-0 run to go up, 13-8. The flurry saw Belmont call for a timeout. The brief break in action appeared to work as a TTU service error combined with a kill by Floyd made it a three point differential, 13-10. This time, it would be Tennessee Tech calling both of its timeouts in rapid succession as Belmont remained just two points behind, 14-12. Unfortunately, a service error for BU broke the rhythm and handed the Golden Eagles the set, 15-12.
Floyd set a new career-high with her match high 20 kills. She also picked up her third double-double of the season with her 12 digs. Sophomore Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.) recorded 16 kills and Ball added 13. Freshman Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) became the first Bruin to tally 50 assists in a match this season with her match and career high total. Senior Haley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill.) posted a career-best 21 digs. Freshman Peyton Kelley (Normal, Ill.) contributed a career-best 18 digs, followed by Mullins, who added 15. Mullins also posted BU's lone solo block of the match. Huntir Bass tallied a career-best five block assists in the effort.
The Bruins enter the final weekend of OVC regular season play in a four-way tie for eighth place. Eight teams qualify for the 2018 OVC Volleyball Championship.
Belmont returns to action on November 9 with a stop on the road at Eastern Kentucky. Match time is set for 6 p.m. Live stats will be available. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.