RICHMOND, Ky. -- Belmont University Volleyball fell shy is holding back a late surging Eastern Kentucky on the road Friday evening. The Bruins (5-22, 5-10 OVC) were held off by the Colonels (5-22, 4-11 OVC), 3-1, in their next to last match of the regular season.
The opening of the first set was a hot back and forth with the Bruins leaning on strong to pick up points from kills by freshmen Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.) and Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.) and sophomore Huntir Bass (Mobile, Ala.). The Colonels picked up steam and grabbed an 8-5 lead that saw the Bruins call for their first huddle session of the stanza. EKU continued to take advantage of a handful of BU miscues to expand its lead to 13-7, forcing the visitors to burn their second timeout of the frame. Eastern Kentucky was able to maintain a four-point advantage going into the midpoint of the set but the Bruins came charging back. However, the Belmont rally was short lived as EKU was able to push for the 25-18 win.
Belmont opened the second frame stronger with quick attacks to take an early lead. The Bruins had blown their lead up to as many as three points before the Colonels were able to knot the score, 10-10. Eastern Kentucky pushed to grab a slim lead, 13-11, and BU called for its first huddle session of the set. The brief break was all Belmont needed as it dug in to knot the score, 14-14, thanks to kills from Ball, senior Maggie Mullins (Nashville, Tenn.) and Floyd. After the stalemate was broken, the teams remained separated by only one point through the midpoint of the stanza. Suddenly, the Bruins broke loose and were the first to hit the 20-point plateau, taking a 20-19 lead. The momentum swing saw EKU burn its first timeout of the set but it did not slow down the Bruins. Belmont surged and pulled ahead 23-21, forcing the Colonels to use their final timeout of the frame but it didn't halt the streaking Bruins. Belmont refused to let up in the waning points and took the set, 25-22.
Both teams looked to grab the reigns early in the third set as they traded points with neither able to gain a lead of more than one point at a time. Belmont called a preventative timeout as it pulled ahead by one, 11-10, thanks to kills by sophomore Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.), Mullins and Floyd. BU used a 4-0 run to regain control and take a 16-14 lead. The Bruins were able to maintain the point differential and used a block assist from Bass and freshman Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) to go up, 18-16. The resounding block saw the Colonels call for a timeout as it looked for ways to slow Belmont as it continued to heat up down the stretch. A solo block for Bass saw BU take a 21-18 lead and force Eastern Kentucky to consume its final timeout. The score would be stalemated, 21-21, before another intense back and forth battle rekindled. Belmont fell behind by one, 23-22, and quickly called for a huddle session. However, EKU was able to maintain its lead down the stretch as it took the frame, 25-22.
The top of the fourth frame was another back and forth battle between the teams, this time marked by a whopping nine ties. The Colonels used a 4-0 run to go up, 14-12, pushing the Bruins to call for their first timeout of the set. Eastern Kentucky was able to expand its lead to five, 19-14, expanding its run to 9-2. The flurry saw Belmont call for its final huddle session of the set in hopes of slowing the streaking Colonels. BU hustled to close the gap to two points, 19-17, thanks to a pair of kills by LePage. Unfortunately, Eastern Kentucky was able to roll off six consecutive points to close the set and pull out a 25-18 win.
Floyd picked up her fifth double-double of the season with a team-high 17 kills and 11 digs. LePage had 11 kills and Mullins had 10 kills in the effort. Freshman Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) finished with 41 assists. Senior Haley Sullivan (Lemont, Ill.) had 16 digs while Mullins had 12 digs to post her second double-double of the season.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday with its final regular season match of the season on the road at Morehead State. First serve is set for 1 p.m. CT. 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.