Snapping its six-game losing streak with a victory over Grambling State University on Sept. 10, Belmont volleyball carried its momentum over to Tennessee State University’s Tiger Invitational on Thursday and Friday.
Finishing off their non-conference schedule, the Bruins competed in three matches and came away with two wins.
On Thursday night, Belmont faced host TSU and head coach Katelyn Harrison believed her team’s former Ohio Valley Conference foe would give the Bruins some trouble.
“They’re going to adapt. They’re going to change. They’re going to be constantly doing some different things and that’s going to keep us on our toes,” she said prior to the game.
Harrison also noted the Tigers’ fast-paced offense, something that was evident once the match began. With each Belmont attempt at a comeback, TSU answered quickly as it effectively shut down the Bruins to secure the three-set win for the Tigers.
After the game, Harrison described her team as “out of rhythm,” meaning the Bruins would have to find their groove heading into Friday’s matches.
Belmont’s first Friday match consisted of the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats. In an extensive first set, which featured 24 ties and 10 lead changes, the Bruins recorded three-straight scores to tie the frame at 20-all. Neither team was able to gain an advantage until a pair of errors notched the first set for the Bruins at 38-36.
The Bruins dominated in the second set as they executed on kills and minimized errors on their way to a 25-9 victory.
After junior Laura Shoopman’s final kill in the fourth, the Bruins secured the match with a 25-20 win.
Shoopman, with a team-high 27 kills, finished with the second-most kills in a four-set match in program history. Shoopman also made Belmont history by being the first Bruin since 2016 to have five 20-kill matches in a single season.
Juniors Kristen Clemons and Ally Peterson were additional standouts as they finished the game with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
Later in the afternoon, the Bruins returned to the court as they faced the Alcorn State University Braves.
Apart from the second set, which Alcorn State won 25-20 due to 13 Belmont attack errors, the Bruins remained in control throughout the match.
The Braves attempted to make the first set difficult, but thanks to freshman Brooke Gilleland’s six kills and a pair of aces from Peterson, the Bruins secured a 25-13 victory.
Remaining in control, Belmont was on fire as it impressively placed kills and dominated from the service line to finish off the match with 25-16 and 25-14 victories in the third and fourth sets.
Gilleland recorded a team-high 15 kills while Shoopman and Peterson also finished with double-digit kills at 12 and 11.
Overall, the Bruins totaled 14 aces in the match, the most for the Bruins since 2016.
Coach Harrison was pleased with her team’s performance in Friday’s games.
“I would say last night we were kind of out of rhythm, and so today, it was nice to kind of get back into it a little bit,” she said. “We were able to set some different people, which we’ve needed to do and have some other people step up.”
After two-straight wins, the Bruins will return home to begin their first season of Missouri Valley Conference play with matches against Missouri State University and Southern Illinois University on Sept. 23-24.
PHOTO Junior Laura Shoopman jumps to spike the ball at Tennessee State University on Sept. 15 Ben Burton/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer.