Less than a week after a straight set loss to the Louisville Cardinals, the Belmont volleyball team needed to put pressure on the home team when they played again in the NCAA Tournament.
That pressure came quickly when the Bruins took the first set Thursday night.
After taking that first set against the No. 10 seeded Cardinals, the Bruins fell in four sets in their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. It was the team’s third appearance in the last ten years.
Even the first set required the Bruins to come back from the brink of defeat, much like they had to all season after starting the season 1-7. With points from eight different players Belmont pulled back into the game with an 9-1 run to take the set 25-21.
The Bruins also had leads far into the second and third sets but could not hold the host Cardinals back when they took both sets 25-19 and 25-18.
In the fourth set, the Bruins’ early lead did not keep them in the game. A late run closed the Louisville lead late in the match but wasn’t enough to overcome the combination of attack errors and Cardinal size. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3 respectively, Gwen Rucker and Brooke Mattingly had nine combined blocks on the night.
The scrappy Bruins kept play after play alive throughout the game with their digs and on-the-floor saves. Jamie Lundstrom led the Belmont defense with 20 digs and three others had 10 or more. Scarlet Gable and Jocelyn Youngdahl both had 12 kills on the night.
Lola Arslanbekova had a double-double for the Cardinals, scoring 19 kills and making 10 digs.
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