Belmont volleyball beats UT Martin Friday night but falls on Saturday in weekend set at Curb Event C
Belmont volleyball faced off against the University of Tennessee at Martin in back-to-back home games, with each team winning one match apiece.
Going into their second Ohio Valley Conference game of the 2021-2022 season, the Bruins held a record of 3-8 after most recently beating Tennessee State University Tuesday. Looking to build up momentum, Belmont broke the UT Martin Skyhawks’ 3-game winning streak with a 3-1 win Friday but could not hold them off on Saturday.
With Belmont parents weekend in full swing, over 1,000 supporters watched the Bruins and Skyhawks duel over the 7 sets and the back-to-back games.
On Friday evening, the Bruins shot out of the gate in the opening set with a strong 10-1 lead which featured an 8-point run by senior Peyton Kelley.
The Skyhawks ultimately lost the set after a kill from senior Mary Catherine Ball. The Bruins resolved the set with a comfortable lead of 25-17, thanks to back-to-back aces from junior Laura Shoopman.
The second set offered some confusion after a block from Belmont at 5-8 resulted in the point being awarded first to UT Martin, then re-awarded to the Bruins before referees changed their mind once again, this time sticking with their original call.
Following the play delay, the Bruins continued to stay within five points of the opponent, eventually winning the set 25-23.
Possession and points were exchanged continuously throughout the third set, with neither side able to hold the lead for long, but it was ultimately a successful block by UT Martin that won them the set 27-25.
Belmont head coach Katelyn Harrison was impressed by her team, despite falling short in the third set.
“I thought the team has really taken that next-play mentality and run with it,” she said. “They made a really great run there at the end and obviously if those couple serves had fallen in, it probably would have been a sweep tonight, but I’m really proud of them.”
Coming back for the fourth set still in the zone, sophomore Rachel McBride boasted an early 5-point service run to give the Bruins a healthy head start for the final leg.
A match-winning kill from Shoopman at 25-19 was fitting as she topped the team in kills for the night, racking up 17 for an overall hitting percentage of 0.368. Right behind her, senior Taylor Floyd collected 15 kills.
“This is the first time I feel like we’ve been able to do it and do it at a high level,” coach Harrison said of their goals for a multiplayer attack strategy. “Laura running the right was playing great, and the middles were playing really well.”
The momentum from Friday night’s win did not carry over into Saturday afternoon’s match, however, and Harrison said that the team “played very differently” and “seemed to have a different mentality right off the bat.”
The individual hitters’ double-digit kills from the night before could not be matched and the 22 attacking errors were the team’s Achilles’ heel. Belmont lost 3 sets to none.
“I think there’s a lot of things we can learn,” Harrison said of the loss. “We’ve really just got to kind of refine some details but then refocus and approach every night the way we approached last night.”
Belmont volleyball heads out on a five-game road trip starting Friday.
PHOTO: Belmont volleyball’s Mary Catherine Ball up by the net for a kill at Saturday’s game versus UT Martin. Belmont Vision / Nikiah Perry.
This article was written by Victoria Edgar.