The Bruins hosted Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in the Curb Event Center Sunday and Monday to open up their unusual season.
It has been over a year since head coach Katelyn Harrison saw her team in competitive action. That finally changed after Belmont opened its conference-only season with two 3-0 losses in a two-match series against SIUE.
SIUE came into the two-match series with an all-time 7-2 record against Belmont.
In the first set of Sunday’s match, Belmont couldn’t compete with the offensive onslaught of SIUE. The Cougars nabbed its first point of the season, and didn’t look back as the team cruised to a 25-14 first set win.
Belmont warmed up to the competition in the second set with an early three-point lead guided by senior Mackenzie LePage’s kill and service ace. The Cougars rallied to tie the game at 6-6 and later remained in the lead despite efforts by freshman Ally Peterson, who recorded three kills and two service aces. SIUE would go on to win the second set 25-18.
The third and final set started out as a one-point game until the Cougars scored four points in a row, building a 10-5 lead. It ended up being a long-fought set where freshman Sophia Hagstrom tallied five kills and junior Carly Mason logged six assists.
Ultimately, SIUE recorded its first win of the season after a 25-19 win in the third set. The Cougars’ leading scorer was Savannah Christian with 16.5 points and the most kills and blocks in the game, with 13 and six respectively. Jordyn Klein recorded the highest number of digs for SIUE with 16.
For Belmont, freshman Rachel McBride chipped in with 18 digs in the game. Meanwhile, Hagstrom led in the kills department with eight.
The young team recharged for a rematch on Monday, and once again, SIUE built an early lead and did not let the Bruins catch up.
Belmont’s momentum of five straight points in the second half of the first set was not enough, and the scores eventually landed on 25-20 for the away team.
The second set started in the same trend with SIUE holding a 5-1 lead. With some active coaching from Harrison and her team, Belmont reached a 6-6 tie. However, SIUE went on a run, resulting in a 25-14 second set loss for Belmont.
Up to this point, Manson and Kristen Clemson were the players generating the largest numbers for Belmont. The third set was no different as they often found ways to help score points for the Bruins.
Junior Mary Catherine Ball had a good set as well with four kills and one block assist in the second half of the third set.
Points were traded back and forth for the majority of the set and both teams scored more through kills than errors.
The bar was raised by the Bruins, but the Cougars could not be stopped as top players like Rachel McDonald continued performing at a high level, recording 12 kills and two service aces. The final score of the third set totaled 25-19, as SIUE took home another 3-0 win.
In this rematch, Manson led Belmont with 19 assists and 14 digs.
In the hunt for the first win of the season, the Bruins now look to the next two-game series against the University of Tennessee at Martin this weekend for another Sunday-Monday double-header, with first serves slated for 4 p.m. and 2:15 p.m., respectively.
This article written by Jessica Mattsson.