Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Gearing up for a three-game weekend hosted on the home court, the Belmont volleyball team opened the season with two wins Friday and a hard-fought loss Saturday.
With Alcorn State University, North Alabama University and Indiana State University volleyball in town for the Music City Invitational, the Bruins kicked off 2021-22 play Friday morning at the Curb Event Center.
“I think the biggest thing this year is that we have come into the season with a senior class that’s really determined to leave a different legacy than one that has been in the past,” head coach Katelyn Harrison said. “And I think that they’re very intentional in their behaviors and what they’re trying to do right now.”
Sweeping Alcorn State 3-0 in the first contest, Belmont senior Taylor Floyd led the team in kills with her eight floorings. Floyd also matched junior middle hitter Kailee Bass’ five block assists in the match.
Junior outside hitter Laura Shoopman also stood out on the court, leading the Bruins with nine digs and six aces.
Later that day, Belmont won again, beating the North Alabama Lions 3-1.
In this second contest, Belmont secured a nail-biting victory in the second set, winning 26-24.
The Lions bounced back for a 17-25 triumph in the third frame before the Bruins could work up momentum, but the home team came out victorious in the fourth and final set to clinch a 3-1 match-up.
The win against North Alabama makes this Belmont volleyball team the first since 2017 to secure two wins on the same day.
Shoopman helped seal the deal for Belmont, leading the team with 18 kills. Sophomore libero Rachel McBride also played well with an impressive 17 digs.
Fellow sophomore Ally Peterson showed up too, recording 12 kills from her outside hitter position.
No. 12 Taylor Floyd on the court. Belmont Vision / A.J. Wuest
Waking up Saturday morning with two wins in the bag, the Bruins struggled to find an advantage against the Indiana State Sycamores for the third and final contest of the weekend.
After losing a rough first set 13-25, Belmont rallied for a 25-20 comeback in the second frame, despite trailing their opponents for most of the set.
But Belmont came up shy in the remaining two sets, and the Sycamores clinched the game in the fourth.
In this contest, McBride brought another outstanding performance with a four-setter career high of 26 digs.
Shoopman and Floyd both recorded kills in the double digits at 14 and 13 respectively. And despite the loss, Floyd’s spirits were high after the game.
“As a team, we have one very specific goal of celebrating small victories and making sure that along the way we don’t let one loss derail us from our goals at the end of the season — which is to be in the OVC Tournament and win the OVC Championship,” she said.
Friday also marked the collegiate debut of freshman outside hitter Missy Sterkel.
As the only freshman to see the court so far, she recorded 16 kills and 5 digs in the 11 sets she played over the weekend.
Another freshman, middle blocker Grace Evans, is currently battling a stress reaction in her shin, but she expressed her excitement to compete with her teammates soon.
“I’m hoping to be back in action for Chicago next weekend, but other than that, I’m rehabbing really hard and I can’t wait to get back out there with the team,” Evans said after Saturday’s game.
After a 2-1 start to the season, the Bruins will travel to Chicago to compete in the University of Illinois Chicago Invitational where UIC, Chicago State University and Eastern Michigan University will face off Sept. 10-11.
PHOTO: (left to right) Belmont’s Carly Mason, Kailee Bass and Ally Peterson on the court / Photo by A.J. Wuest
This article was written by A.J. Wuest and Jessica Mattsson.