Nip and tuck NCCAA Mid-East Region Championship match loss for King

BRISTOL, Tenn. - King College battled, but the Lady Tornado came up short of the 2010 NCCAA Mid-East Women's Volleyball Region Championship, losing 3-1 to defending national champion Campbellsville (Ky.) University.

King, the event's No. 3 seed and No. 7 team in the NCCAA, ended the day with a 30-9 record. The Lady Tornado will have to wait to see if a repeat trip to the NCCAA National Tournament will come as an at-large team. The national organization will announce at-large teams on Monday. Campbellsville, the event's top seed and ranked No. 4 nationally, has a 30-10 record with the automatic trip to the nationals.

Campbellsville took the opening set 27-25 and King evened the match with a 25-23 decision. The Tigers won the final two sets 25-20 and 26-24 for the region crown.

In the first set that featured 16 lead changes and 15 ties, neither team led by more than three at any point in the match. The three-point advantage came when Campbellsville led 5-2. The match went back-and-forth until King got a 24-23 lead with the serve. However, the Lady Tornado squad was unable to clinch the match. Campbellsville's Shannon Cahill recorded the last three kills of the set for her team. The first-set defeat was only the third for the Lady Tornado this season.

The early part of game two saw the lead changed hands six times until King took a 9-8 lead. When Morgan Machen (Kingsport, Tenn.) provided a kill to make the score 18-14 in favor of King, Campbellsville used a timeout. The lead grew to 22-17 and another Campbellsville timeout came. Campbellsville tried to make a push late after King enjoyed a 24-19 lead and got within three, 24-21. But an ace from Sarah Van Gothem (Aurora, Colo.) and a kill by Kelsey Griffitts (Bristol, Va.) ended the set.

King scored the first point of the third, but the Lady Tornado never led the rest of the set. The Lady Tornado did force six ties, the last being 10-10. After that Campbellsville got two straight points and led the rest of the way. However the Lady Tornado never trailed by more than four until the lead grew to 23-18 after a King timeout.

In the fourth set, Campbellsville doubled up King 8-4, but the Lady Tornado answered with four straight points. Eventually King led 10-9 and built it up to 16-11. Campbellsville did not want to play a fifth set and trailing 21-15 the Tigers roared back. King served for the set up 24-22, but Campbellsville scored four in a row to finish the match off.

Machen led King with 15 kills with 13 from Van Gothem. Griffitts finished with a dozen kills in the title tilt.

Shannon Earwood (Carson City, Nev.) had 45 assists for King along with 14 digs. Her assist total ranks as the third most in a four-set match this season.

Rachel Harding (Abingdon, Va.) was credited with 26 digs, her third highest total of the season. Natalie Brown (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Amber Jones (Kingsport, Tenn.) were responsible for 18 and 12 digs apiece. The Lady Tornado team collected 80 digs, the third most this season and highest total in a four-set contest.

Monica Chernichan led all players with 17 kills as she hit .424 for the match. Shannon Cahill was not unlucky with 13 kills.

Caroline Martin provided 50 assists and 16 digs.

Campbellsville had 10 total blocks including four solo. King had four total blocks, two solo.

A season ago King and Campbellsville met for the region title with Campbellsville winning 3-0.