One set away from a season-ending defeat, the Belmont volleyball team rallied to win a fiercely competitive five set match over the ETSU Buccaneers in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun conference tournament Friday evening.
Belmont came out strong early in the match, and took a one-set lead with a 25-23 opening set over the Buccaneers. It was a set that saw neither team hold a lead of more than three points.
Strong play from sophomores Hannah Miranda and Allison McCoy lead the Bruins, who had 59 set assists and 20 kills in the game, respectively.
However, ETSU responded and went on to take the next two sets 25-18 and 25-23, taking a 2-1 set lead in the best-of-five match.
After falling one set away from elimination, head coach Deane Webb only saw a few adjustments needed to get back in the match.
“We didn’t have to make too many strategic or technical adjustments after falling behind. Most of the adjustments that we made we mental adjustments,” he said. We came out strong in the third set, but just couldn’t finish the job.”
True to form for the A-Sun regular season champions, the top-seeded Bruins composed themselves and kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive by taking the fourth set decisively, 25-13.
With the match score tied 2-2 heading into the fifth and deciding set, the Bruins relied on all-conference performers senior Maggie Johnson and sophomore Jamie Lundstrom to guide the team to a 15-8 victory in the fifth and final set.
With the victory, the Bruins will face “Battle of the Boulevard” foe Lipscomb in the conference championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Allen Arena. This will mark the third meeting between the top two teams in the conference this season, and the first match since the Bruins ended the Bisons 44-match conference win streak in late October.
“To beat Lipscomb on their home floor will take a great game.” said Webb. “We didn’t play great tonight. We played good, we played well enough to win, but if we come out and play anything less than great tomorrow we could be in trouble.”
After a season with a number of injuries, being in the championship game was not a position Webb expected to be in.
“ I honestly did think that before the season began we had a shot to have a special year,” he said. “But after we lost three players to injury for the entire season, two of them being starters, I would be lying to you if I said that I still had the same expectations.”