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Volleyball earns first conference win under Howell

Coming off a tough loss in its conference opener, the Belmont volleyball team rebounded with an impressive three-set sweep against Morehead State Saturday afternoon.

Tony Howell earned his first conference win as a head coach, and the Bruins improved their overall record to 5-10 and 1-1 in conference.

“It’s exciting, but you know I have to give all the credit to the girls. They came out with a different intensity from last night and they were just relentless in every aspect of the game. So I’m really proud with how they played,” said Belmont coach Tony Howell.

The first set proved very even with neither team holding higher than a one-point lead until the Bruins came ahead 8-6. Belmont held the lead for the most of the first set, but the Eagles battled to earn their first lead at 14-13 off a Belmont ball-handling error.

The Bruins worked to regain the lead, but the Eagles stood their ground and held the largest lead of the set for either team at 16-19, forcing the Bruins to call a timeout.

Belmont came out of the huddle strong, scoring two consecutive points. A kill from Ariana Person tied it up 19-19, forcing the Eagles to use their first timeout.

The Bruins didn’t stop there as they proceeded on a 6-0 run to earn their largest lead of the set thus far at 22-19.

Two consecutive kills from Person and an impressive dig by the freshman libero Ellie Ivancich closed out the set 25-19 in favor of the Bruins.

“I think we just came out with a renewed mind set, and we were like ‘alright, this is our game we have to take it one at a time,’” said Person.

The Eagles came out with an early 3-1 lead in the second set, but the Bruins had other plans and tied up the match with two consecutive kills and an ace from redshirt freshman Emma Price to take the lead 4-3.

Morehead answered with three consecutive points and continued to hold the lead for most of the second set.

Belmont kept pushing and would tie the game six times before regaining the lead at 15-14 off an Eagle attacking error.

A kill from Person ended the set, and Belmont went into the locker room with a comfortable two-set lead.

The Bruins came out strong to start the third set with early 5-1 lead, forcing Morehead to call a timeout.

Belmont, clearly looking to end the game in three sets, gained an 11-point lead over the Eagles, 15-4, forcing Morehead to use its last timeout.

Although the Eagles battled to close the gap, the Bruins proved too strong and another Person kill ended the set and the match in favor of Belmont.

“It feels awesome. It was even better on the court because with the girls everything felt consistent. It’s what we’ve been waiting for,” said Person.

Alex Martin came out with a team-high nine kills, but Scarlet Gable, Maddie Croft and Person were not far behind, all with eight.

Belmont’s hitting percentage was an impressive .234 in comparison to Morehead’s .109.

“Everything came together and started working for us,” said Person. “Now that we have that feeling and know what it’s like, I think it’ll get a lot better and we will get more consistent in what we need.”

The Bruins travel a short distance down the road Tuesday to face Tennessee State at 6 p.m.

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