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Three’s the magic number for volleyball

The Belmont volleyball team hit the sweep trifecta Tuesday night, handing its third straight three-set victory to the Tigers from Tennessee State.

“Tonight’s match was a good one for us. We wanted to come out work hard and build towards the OVC tournament,” said Belmont coach Tony Howell.

The beginning of the first set was filled with long rallies, but two kills from TSU put them up 6-4 and forced Belmont to call a timeout.

Out of the huddle, the Bruins went on a 5-point run to regain the lead at 9-6.

TSU battled back to close the gap at 12-10, but another 5-point run from the Bruins improved their lead to 19-12 and put the set out of reach for the Tigers.

A kill from senior Alex Martin ended the set in Belmont’s favor, 25-14.

TSU came out in the second set with vengeance, coming up with some impressive digs and monstrous kills to gain an early lead at 6-3.

The Tigers continued to build their lead to six points, forcing Howell to call another timeout at 20-14.

“He basically told us to focus and go in hard and even though we were down a lot, he said that we could do it,” said senior Kelsi Dean.

Howell’s pep-talk seemed to work as Arianna Person delivered a powerful kill to show Belmont was still in the set.

Kills from Emma Price and Dean reinforced that statement and forced TSU to call a timeout with the score at 17-20.

Three consecutive kills tied the match at 20-20, and a tip by Person gave the Bruins their first lead in the second set at 21-20.

TSU continued to fight back but the Bruins proved too tough and an attack error from the Tigers clinched the comeback set for Belmont, 25-22.

“We needed to come back and play our style of game. We cannot let other teams be able to dictate the pace of the game,” said Howell. “So we had to be able to come back and defend, transition and attack hard.”

In the third set, the Bruins came out looking to end the match in three with an early 4-1 advantage.

Belmont maintained a comfortable lead throughout the set as TSU worked to come back from a huge 11-point deficit at 20-9.

TSU made a final push with a 4-point run at 21-13, but a kill from freshman Brie Lewis stopped the drive.

Finally, a service error from the Tigers clinched the sweep for the Bruins, 25-15.

Dean recorded a career-high hitting percentage at .562, 10 kills and only made one hitting error during the course of the match.

“She’s been looking for a while to get to the court and tonight was her opportunity and she took that opportunity and ran with it,” said Howell.

Dean and Person led the team to a collaborative overall .324 hitting percentage for the Bruins.

“To see the girls continue to work hard even this stage of the season, I know the girls are going to do very well. They are peaking at the right time,” said Howell.

Belmont celebrates senior day Saturday while concluding its regular season against SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m.

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