Belmont volleyball was able to nab its second win of the season and its first win in the Ohio Valley Conference at home against Eastern Illinois University Saturday.
The 3-0 win moved the Bruins up to 11th place in the conference standings.
Coming into the match, Belmont had dominated the lifetime series 8-1 in their previous 9 meetings, winning three of the last four matches.
Eastern Illinois were looking to end the Bruins’ current win streak, and early in set one, it looked like they could. Led by Katie Summer, the Panthers jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
But the Bruins were able to battle back. A kill from Taylor Floyd would bring the deficit within one, with a score of 7-6 in favor of the EIU Panthers.
From this point on, it would be a tense back-and-forth, building up to 20 points for both sides. Halee Van Poppel, Floyd and Mary Catherine Ball would all record two or more kills for the Bruins during this 14-point stretch.
Belmont would close set one out on a 5-2 run, aided by two service aces and kills from Ball, Van Poppel and Mackenzie LePage.
Set two was characterized by Belmont’s high hitting percentage and few errors. All week, head coach Katelyn Harrison spoke in practice about limiting errors to give the team the best chance to succeed at a high rate. During the 2nd set they would limit the errors to only five, and the result was a 25-11 win.
Belmont would also notch a .429 hitting percentage during the frame, which made it extremely difficult for Eastern Illinois to score any points in their own attacks.
Set three returned the lead to EIU’s side. The Panthers led, keeping Belmont at bay by two or three points throughout the set. This set also saw Belmont’s hitting percentage plummet to .045 as they struggled to form an attack against the inspired EIU defense.
Belmont would then change its rotation to a 6-2, meaning there are six hitters on the floor with two setters.
Harrison detailed after the game about the reason behind changing the formation during the third set.
“I just wanted our girls to get some reps in the rotation,” she said.
Amidst all the changes in play, MacKenzie Harless, Van Poppel and Ball led the way for the Bruins as they tied the game at 18.
EIU would again pull away by three on a bevy of Belmont errors, bringing the score to 21-18 in the Panthers favor.
Yet, Belmont wouldn’t just roll over and consider the set loss. A kill by Van Poppe rocked the gym and scored the 19th point for Belmont. From this point on the team would go on a 6-2 run, taking the final set 25-23.
The highest-scoring Bruins were Floyd with 10 kills, Ball with 9 and LePage with 8. Peyton Kelly recorded 15 digs in the match
This is a huge win for the Bruins as they look to continue their conference home stand against Tennessee Tech University on Friday Oct. 11.
This article written by Ian Kayanja. Photo by Chloe Eberhardt.